Transvestite bashing, pointless escape by jetpack and a tedious theft of some nuclear missiles. Bond is back. It's just he's in slow motion and the film lasts almost as long as Tom Jones holding that last note to the theme tune.
I could run faster than this thing flew
OK, so Goldfinger and From Russia with Love saw the bar raised for what a spy film should be and Gert Frobe being sucked through a light aircraft window is going to be tough to follow but Thunderball is just a plain tiresome.
The original end credits of Goldfinger said that Bond would return in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' If only Eon had done that with Connery. It would have blown everything else out of the water. It's not all doom and gloom though. Blofeld's back and so is S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and they want £100 million. There's a bloke that looks suspiciously like Delbert Grady in S.P.E.C.T.R.E but this story is all about Number 2; the eye patched and chubby Emilio Largo. Using some mug called Angelo and a bit of strategic plastic surgery, Largo acquires two of NATO's charming nuclear warheads and puts them in hiding in The Bahamas whilst his evil ginger associate with a great rack sets about keeping the scheme going. Meanwhile, Bond is getting some treatment in a spa hotel conveniently located near the scene of the crime.
Ginger = Evil
The main problem with Thunderball is that it's so slow. It takes an age for anything to happen. Sure there a lots of pretty shots of planes flying and yachts knocking around crystal clear waters but you find yourself tapping your fingers waiting for something to happen. The actual theft of NATOs missiles sees me growing a three day beard. Christ, this film is making me look like a hobo! We haven't even got to one of the underwater fight scenes yet. It's good to build tension but not good when it takes this long.
Bond is dispatched to The Bahamas (nice work if you can get it) to recover the warheads after avoiding a boring turn in Canada. He has one lead. Disastrously, the mug S.P.E.C.T.R.E. used and killed had a sister. Yes! Another bikini clad beauty and this one's called Domino. Oh no. Domino is protected by Largo. Now things go all a bit Jacques Cousteau. Lots of snorkeling. Lots of fish. Lots of stifled yawning. Even Largo's penchant for feeding people to his pet sharks wears thin. There is brief respite as Q arrives in the field wearing a magnificent shirt and armed with a case of bits and bobs. How does he get these things through customs?
Q's shirt. Much better than Leiter's effort
Binoculars, yachts, sharks. Something. Clay pigeons. Water. Oh, sorry, I appear to have nodded off. I've come round just in time for the best part of Thunderball. Fiona's pursuit of a bleeding Bond through the Junkanoo is magical. This is why Bond was called Mr Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Fiona's death is something Moore and Dalton could only dream of.
Bond eventually finds the plane that housed the missing nukes. You almost wish he'd found Jaws instead. There's some more paddling about before we reach our conclusion. An epic underwater battle with a smoky SCUBA tank before a fight with Largo, wearing a giant condom, onboard the Disco Valante. The final fight between Bond and Largo is so fast it's like a Benny Hill sequence. At least Domino can fill her black and white bikini and Connery's sunglasses make him look like a Ray Charles tribute act.
I should've bought a corset
The underwater battle, with so many extras Spartacus would think twice, is bizarrely slow. It is now obligatory that all underwater craft in a Bond film be yellow and make a strange noise whilst Bond can do untold damage with a small knife. Harpoons are now seemingly the most accurate weapon on the planet and Bond is a bugger with an underwater grenade.
So, by virtue of it's thunderous ability to make you yawn, Thunderball is a bit of a flop but then we have been spoilt by it's predecessors
I'm already looking forward to some reasonable pacing and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice.