Based on Ian Fleming's 1961 novel, THUNDERBALL is 007 at his best. The fourth film in the Bond series finds the super spy (Sean Connery) battling a powerful organization named S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and its nefarious Number Two, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), who has threatened to destroy Miami with an atomic weapon unless a huge ransom is paid. Of course, James Bond has something else in mind: a full-on infiltration of Largo's boat, the Disco Volante. With double the Bond girls (with Claudine Auger as the luscious Domino and Luciana Paluzzi as the villainous Fiona Volpe), this favored Bond outing features captivating underwater action sequences that hold up to this day. THUNDERBALL was nominated for a Best Special Effects Academy Award in 1965 and is not be confused with the "unofficial" 1983 James Bond film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, which also stars Connery and is based on the same novel.
In the fourth James Bond film, agents from the deadly SPECTRE organization have stolen two atomic bombs during a NATO training mission and demand a ransom from Great Britain of $280 million or they will drop them on two unnamed cities, killing millions of innocent people.
"Do you mind if my friend sits this out - she's just dead." -- James Bond (Sean Connery) to a couple at a table when his dance partner is killed with a bullet meant for him.
"...Connery's Bond was never better than this..." 10/01/2000 p.101
British Academy Awards, Ken Adam, Best British Art Direction (Colour)
Oscar, John Sears, Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
John Sears, Winner, Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
British Academy Awards (1966)
Ken Adam, Nominee, Best British Art Direction (Colour)
By the time Thunderball, the fourth in the "official" James Bond film canon, was released, the "Bond Formula" had already been perfected. It goes something like this: take the suave 007 (always impeccably dressed and ready with a witty one-liner) and add several beautiful, scantily-clad women, at least one exotic locale, a few neat gadgets, multiple polished action sequences, a megalomaniac villain, and a musical score by the inimitable John Barry. These elements, taken together, made Bond a huge success in the 1960s and have kept him riding a crest of financial profitability for more than three decades...Of all his Bond performances, Sean Connery seems the most comfortable here (not that he was ever uncomfortable). With three movies behind him and two more yet to come, Connery was in the midst of a career-making, successful run...The underwater sequences, which are choreographed and directed with great skill, are Thunderball's standout feature. Connery is more often in a bathing suit than a tuxedo here. A fair amount of time is spent beneath the ocean's surface, and, down in Neptune's realm, the photography (by Lamar Boren) is clear and the action sequences are invigorating (when they don't seem to last forever, that is). Thunderball is classic 007 -- not the best picture in the long-running series, to be sure, but a more-than-worthwhile diversion for the action-loving escapist in us all.
The challenge facing Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and director Terence Young in planning Goldfinger's follow-up was to come up with a stylish entertainment that would meet or exceed the Bond audience's now-raised expectations. What they came up with was Thunderball, a lively mix of girls, guns, and gadgets...Sean Connery is back in Thunderball as the sexiest of all the Bonds. This time, Agent 007 battles the agents of SPECTRE from the pristine beaches of Nassau (in the Bahamas), as he races against time to uncover the nuclear weapons stolen by SPECTRE agent Number Two, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) in SPECTRE's attempt to blackmail the world...Goldfinger had the Aston Martin sports car and all of its many gadgets to excite audiences. The Aston Martin disappears in Thunderball after the opening sequence, but what replaces it is nearly as amazing: some of the most spectacular underwater sequences ever put on film. Bond doesn't just have to contend with SPECTRE agents, but sharks as well. Production designer Ken Adam outdid himself in creating slick underwater crafts and gadgetry that add flavor to the underwater scenes. The final climactic battle between the forces of good and evil, shot by underwater-camera ace Lamar Boren and directed by Ricou Browning, is a sensational underwater ballet pitting man against man and man against fish.
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.35:1, English, French, Spanish, Subtitled, No Longer Produced
Christopher Null, FilmCritic.com
...a real jaw-dropper...
Dragan Antulov, Rec.Arts.Movies.Reviews
...represents the series in its zenith and provides excellent entertainment even after more than three decades.
Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress
Fun Bond flick.
Channel 4 Film
...classic 007 action, featuring great underwater sequences and a wicked femme fatale.
James Rocchi, Netflix
...remarkably good fun. It's retro enough to be amusing in the dull bits and timeless enough to be fresh and vital today.
Steve Crum, Video-Reviewmaster.com
Certainly among the top five of all Bonds, and still socko.
Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
Sometimes the most dated parts of an old film can be the most enjoyable; so it is with Bond's fifth movie, Thunderball.