We are a little late with this one, but in honor of the passing of Sir Sean Connery we wanted our movie last week to be the next James Bond film in line for us. You might wonder, why did we pick one of the ones no one ever talks about? Back during quarantine we started looking for older movies to watch, and turns out my wife hasn’t seen hardly any of the Bond films, and there’s a few I missed, so we started at the beginning. Thunderball was the next in line, and boy looking at the reviews we are probably in the minority in thinking this is the worst of the Connery installments so far. It was the most successful by far, and more successful than the 5 that followed it. It rates high on Rotten Tomatoes, and higher than many other Connery ones. We just didn’t care for it and I’ll get into why in a minute.
Thunderball is the fourth Bond film, though if not for some copyright issues it would have been the first. Released in 1965, it follows the story of MI6 agent James Bond as he tracks down two NATO nuclear warheads stolen by the terrorist organization, SPECTRE. The organization holds the world hostage, threatening to detonate the bombs if they are not paid 100 Million Pounds. Bond must find the warheads before then with his usual gadgetry, bravado, and charm. Taking place mostly on, and in the ocean around Nassau Island, the movie has some beautiful scenery, color, and flair. In typical style, Bond saves the world, but not without some help with the usual leading ladies and CIA agent Felix.
Much like the advert states, James Bond does it everywhere. I may be in the minority here, but I didn’t care for the underwater scenes at all. I thought they were too long, boring, and the music during those scenes was often piercing. I felt like Thunderball was a parody of itself and most Bond films. Everything, from the script, the gadgets, and Bond literally doing ‘it’ everywhere (including underwater in scuba gear) made it feel like an Austin Powers movie rather than a Bond film. Right from the start, with a daring escape on a jet pack that just looked ridiculous and campy. While it had the typical sexy intro with obviously nude mermaid silhouettes swimming underwater, the opening song was just weird and annoying. In fact, the music throughout most of the movie was barely tolerable.
That’s not to say Thunderball is all bad. The shooting locations were gorgeous, even the boring scenes under water were shot like National Geographic footage. The cast was also great, given what they had to work with. The action, for it’s time, was even fun. All of that suffered from the script, music, and lack of editing on the drawn out underwater scenes. Another aspect of the movie I liked was Bond very much needed help from his allies. While he is the best of the best, there are times when even 007 needs a hand. The femme fatale and leading ladies of the movie held their own for the most part, but it was starting to dip into more of the shallow territory the franchise is more commonly thought to have.
Final verdict? Granted, we haven’t seen all the Bond films yet so I can’t say this is the worst, I can say it’s the worst so far. It’s not a terrible movie by any means, we just didn’t feel like it lived up to the previous installments. Just be prepared for some eye-rolling moments, and some long-winded scuba scenes. Other than that, it’s worth seeing if you’re doing them in order like we are. It’s just not one that I’d go back to, or call my favorite.