Since Goldfinger was a figurative home-run in the James Bond series, it was expected that Thunderball would carry the mantle and surpass it through a bigger budget and even bigger plot. The problem however is that the largely water-based story ended up a bit less interesting than Mr. Goldfinger and his memorable quotes. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. comes back in full force for Thunderball, demanding over 200 Million dollars or a major British or US city would be decimated by a captured nuclear warhead. The entire movie seemed to have been shot within a giant Hollywood fish tank with an aim to show-off every inch of it within 2 hours. For me I found the overkill of James in the ocean playing diver to be a bit too much and it took so much away from the plot that I forgot most of the movie by the time it was ending.
Starting out in standard Bond fare, Thunderball pulls you in as a well liked pilot is killed and replaced by a lookalike on his way to fly a plane carrying two nuclear warheads. At the same time we are shown James apprehending and killing an elusive mark before donning a rocket pack (yes you heard me correctly) and escaping to a waiting vehicle outside of the castle. When the captured plane lands into the middle of the ocean and captured by a giant yacht, we learn that the mysterious group S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is behind it all and an emergency meeting is called for all of the double 0s, Bond included, to plan a defensive against the impeding threat.
James is at his most invisible in Thunderball as he plays second hat to underwater shots of random lobsters, sharks and vehicles. His villain Emilio Largo (Adolpho Celi) is one shining light amongst the cast as he is both a like-able and respectable bad guy sporting an eye-patch and black wardrobe. Claudine Augere plays Domino Derval, who despite being beautiful turned out to be one of the dullest Bond girls I have seen. Fiona Vulpe (Luciana Paluzzi) is the dark Bond Girl and in standard fare is the most interesting of the two as her black widow attitude and cold intent of dispatching Bond is one that made her even more threatening. Despite rescuing 007 when he is stranded out on an island, she gives him a little treat and makes him comfortable in order to loosen his guard while her henchmen attacked. She is one of the best parts of Thunderball.
Although this is the first movie to falter in the Bond line-up, it is still a solid effort but one I found boring and forgettable due (again) to the effort at showing more water than actual spy-work.
Bond-o-meter Score (ranges from 1-10):
James Bond/Story(8): Both James and the story are solid.
Bond Girl (5): Domino though beautiful is quite forgettable.
Bond Toys(6): Rocketpack and a neat watch is all. The villains had the gadgetry in this movie.
The Villain (7): Largo starts out strong enough but becomes quite vulnerable fast as James pretty much ignores him in the final sequence of events.
Spicy Movie Review (6): The water, the accursed water and the director’s hard-on for filming fish killed this movie for me.