The title Thunderball may refer to the threat of atomic annihilation, but I think the name of the fourth James Bond film refers to the explosive amount of fun one has while watching the film. Call me ebullient, but this is easily one of the best Bond films to have graced the silver screen.
As an entry in the Bond canon, Thunderball gloriously exhibits all the features of a 007 film with unmistakable excellence. Starting with gadgets, everyone is familiar with Bond’s brief but iconic jetpack escape in the film’s opening. Although most of the gadgets introduced by Q are humorously dated by today’s standards, this is a nanoscopic flaw, as we are also treated to the repartee between Bond and the classic characters of Q, M, Moneypenny and Felix Leiter. It would be criminal to avoid mention of Tom Jones’ sublime title song, which introduces the stunning sounds of the brass and musical motifs that appear throughout the film. Casino Royale fans will easily pick up on the many references to Thunderball, such as the setting of the Bahamas, a visit to the casino, sexy beach scenes and much more.
The film exhibits the classic fashion, architecture and visual style of the 60s, and its revolutionary devotion to underwater sequences still demands respect from the audience 50 years later. I disagree with the assertion that the underwater scenes are monotonous and too long; they are exquisitely shot, despite the inconsistencies in lighting and editing, and they overcame the miscellaneous difficulties of shooting underwater (think pre-digital cameras, currents, sharks and communication). If you disregard some of the future Bond films and the fatuous Austin Powers films, the premise of the world being held hostage by two NATO bombs actually feels original and genuinely threatening.
It’s no secret that I think Daniel Craig is the best Bond, but he marginally beats Sean Connery, who commands the film with an inimitable coolness, wit and handsomeness, even if he acts like a misogynist prick at times. There are many memorable one-liners, such as “She’s just dead” and “I think he got the point”. In addition to the gorgeous Bond girls of the film, Connery is also supported by the formidable villain: the eye-patched Neapolitan Emilio Largo, who bears a striking resemblance to the Tintin villain Rastapopoulos. Despite its brief appearance, the Spectre office is a gorgeous Ken Adam set that is simply breathtaking. In addition to Thunderball’s influence on other classic blockbusters, such as The Godfather, Jaws and Star Wars, its most memorable (and perhaps strongest) quality is the immense fun and excitement experienced by viewers. While cheering throughout the entire runtime, I've come to realise how some of the best action movies are not restricted to the 21st century.
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