From the sublime to the ridiculous…
After the perfection that is Goldfinger the next film was always going to have to go some way to match up. Sadly Thunderball misses by a country mile. I’ve always felt Thunderball is a film to be endured rather than enjoyed and this re-watching has done precious little to change that opinion.
The plot is fairly standard: SPECTRE steals two atomic weapons and it’s down to Bond to recover them to avert disaster.
The film’s pacing is one of its main problems – some of the scenes just lag dreadfully. There’s also a palpable lack of chemistry between Sean Connery and Claudine Auger (who plays Domino Derval) which undermines any romantic relationship. The direction- by Terence Young (returning for the third and final time after Dr No and From Russia With Love)- is almost soporific in places. Scenes that should have some tension- such as the chase through the carnival or where Bond searches the sunken plane- are leaden.
As goes the cast, Adolfo Celi is serviceable but immensely bland as the main villain Emilio Largo For the third film in which the character appears, there is a third actor playing Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter taking over from Jack Lord in Dr No and Cec Linder in Goldfinger). Again, as with most of the performances here, it’s adequate but certainly nothing memorable.
However, it’s not all bad. The pre-credits sequence packs a punch- the fight sequence is well done and the jetpack is still cool- and the opening scene with SPECTRE is pretty good. It’s fun to see Q in the field in Nassau rather than in the lab and the relationship between Bond and Q is as good as ever.
Fiona Volpe is a fun character- a properly unrepentant femme fatale- and played to the hilt by Luciana Paluzzi. The scene where she demolishes Bond’s macho pride is fun and her death prompts one of the best-known quips in the Bond franchise: ‘do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead’
There is some fun to be had but it’s few and far between. I’m glad to have got through this – there’s much better still to come
Rating: 2 out of 5