Thunderball (1965)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
What a bore.

Usually, when a movie raises the bar, setting the stage for the rest of the series…the very next movie is going to attempt at raising it one more time. Now, they don’t usually even meet the bar, but they come close at times. Goldfinger was the third film in the franchise, but first to really show the world what James Bond is made out of. It is sometimes seen as a “template” of sorts for Bond films to follow, the secret ingredient if you will. That being said, Thunderball followed Goldfinger, and I think I speak for everyone when I say I was let down by how tedious of a task it was to watch this one.

James Bond is back and still hitting on every woman he comes across, sometimes even more violent as his ego raises through the roof, but he still gets the ladies in the end. Anyways, SPECTRE has stolen two nuclear bombs and they apparently plan to use them once in the United States and once in the U.K….in some random city that they didn’t bother to explain which. Their plan is an elaborate extortion plot, and every time I see them, they are turning more and more into a cartoon villain. They are one inch away from saying, “What are we going to do today Brain?”.

The plot itself is okay, but only for 1965. The other films had plots that interestingly enough translate very well for a modern audience. They may read the message a little differently, but it is still a very successful franchise, and it deserves that success. However, the plot in this film is so tacky, so campy, it’s really hard to ignore. Really? Nuclear bombs? What is this, Superman IV? There is always something special about a James Bond film, something that only it owns, something that’s really memorable. For Goldfinger, we had a resourceful man that killed a woman by painting her gold. Weird, right? But so James Bond. Nuclear bombs are an okay plot device, honestly, but not the main one. The entire film hinged on that idea, and that’s why it is ultimately forgettable in the long run.

It’s not only the lack of originality or Bond flare that is usually brought to the table, but it is also the complex story structure. More than half the time I was watching the film, I had no idea what was going on, and even then, I stopped caring. It occurred to me that several scenes in this film were rather pointless in the long run. The film had no right to be more than two hours. For having such a forgettable plot, pointless scenes, and an outrageous time length, the film really feels as if it drags out so much longer than welcomed. I hate to say it, but it will annoy you.

I can’t say it’s all bad, because there are some good things about it. First of all, James Bond is still a spy. First and foremost, when I’m watching 007, this is a must. However, he doesn’t even meet Q for his gear until an hour into the film – a major letdown and example of bad pacing if ever there was one. However, once he gets his gear, you feel a little better as he drives around in the spy car introduced in Goldfinger and as he uses his…waterproof watch and thing to breathe under water with. Okay, so the gear wasn’t all that impressive either…but that car, man. That car.

Overall, the spirit and pacing of James Bond was a bit lost in Thunderball. No real memorable scenes were given, and the movie is just too long with too many tangled up plots that no one’s really going to love. However, it is still Sean Connery, and he is still acting as a spy, giving it all he’s got.

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