Thunderball (1965) Film Review

SPECTRE and Blofeld are back to continue their plan for world domination. After the success of Goldfinger, Thunderball had a lot to live up to. The budget is bigger, the action is bigger, but does Thunderball prove that bigger is better?

SPECTRE return and decide to steal two atomic bombs and then threaten to bomb London if they do not receive 100 million pounds by the end of the week. It is Bond’s job to find where the bombs are stored and stop SPECTRE.

God, the Bond films are so much fun. This film starts off with a fast paced fight scene and then the use of a Jetpack and a bulletproof car that shoots out water to deter the bad guys. Starting with the brooding vocals of Tom Jones, James Bond returns with a bang. Bond travels to the Bahamas as that is where, Number Two, the resident villain in this installment and where the bombs are held. To be set in a beautiful place like the Bahamas really treats the viewer into beautiful scenic shots of the country. In the 60’s aesthetic with bright vibrant colours, this is one of the most beautiful looking film in its 50 year history.

Thunderball will be known as the film that was mostly underwater. A lot of the film was shot underwater, impressive for the time but there was too much nonsensical shooting. In the final confrontation, there is a good 15-20 minute fight underwater and it just goes on for too long and at times it was a struggle to keep up with what was going on. Some of the editing was a bit jilted and I swear there were shots that were reused in the same scene. It was great to have the filmmakers take risks but it was overdone and this film needed to be a little shorter and reducing the underwater scenes would of been the right decision to solve the problem.

Now with Bond, especially 60’s Bond, there are some questionable moments of misogyny and in this rewatching, I have bit my tongue from time to time and kind of pass it off with some of Bond’s advances but there were some interactions that proved questionable. It remains an interesting look into how society portrayed the irresistible man and women being portrayed as weak. This can be seen as a reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to progress. Early Bond does have these awkward moments but I thought Thunderball crossed the line a little.

That aside, Thunderball is a very good film, the action is much more smoothly produced and Sean Connery evolution of Bond is all on display here. This is the moment where Sean Connery solidifies himself as the James Bond. He’s having fun here as the character and that is shown with the quick puns and smirkiness of Bond throughout. The gadgets are still centre stage here with the geiger counter pocket watch and the underwater camera and a great Q scene. Q is one of those characters that steals every scene they are in and I feel like every review will mention that, so you have been warned.

Thunderball is another good installment into the Bond franchise. It does falter with its length and overuse of underwater scenes and questionable Bond character. However Thunderball is another good installment with good action, a few laughs and beautiful scenery. Thunderball will be no one’s favourite but it is still a very good and fun James Bond film.


Rating – ★★★ 1/2


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