Thunderball (Terence Young, 1965, UK)

While by no means a bad film, Thunderball is one of the weaker entries in the Connery Bond canon. After Goldfinger, the Bond franchise had received an incredible amount of international success and attention. The budget of Thunderball wound up exceeding the budget of the first three films combined. Most of this budget went toward the film’s extensive underwater sequences. Some of these sequences - such as Connery’s encounter with a group of sharks - are quite thrilling. Others, including the final battle between the U.S. frogmen and Emilio Largo’s personal army, are less than thrilling. The underwater scenes in Thunderball are an example of an innovation which would have seemed novel in 1965, but appears somewhat dated in retrospect.
Thunderball, based on an original screenplay that Ian Fleming had collaborated on with a number of other writers, was originally set to be the first film in the Bond franchise. The film was tied up in legal limbo, which led to its being the fourth film in the franchise (there was even a second adaptation, made outside the EON franchise, released with Connery in 1983 - Never Say Never Again).  In comparison with the first three films, Thunderball is longer and more complex in terms of the plotting. The acting varies. Connery at this point was becoming tired of playing Bond, although he still gives a good performance. Adolfo Celi works as Largo, although this villain is not as memorable as others in the series. More memorable is Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona, Largo’s red-headed femme fatale assassin.
While Thunderball feels overextended and bloated, there are some genuinely great moments, including one of the great opening sequences - in which Connery fights with a man in drag and then hops away via a jetpack. The setting in the Bahamas is also well photographed and evocative.



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