Bond Actor: Sean Connery (Age:35)
Martini Count: 1? (I should probably start writing this down, I honestly don’t know)
Women Slept With: 3
Villain’s Evil Scheme: To ransom two stolen NATO nuclear bombs for 100 million (!) pounds sterling
Thunderball starts just like you’d expect a movie about spies and nuclear ransoms: with a British agent beating up a Russian double agent who is dressed up as a woman inside a Paris mansion. Obviously he has to then escape by jetpack and defeat the pursuing henchmen with the deft use of an Aston Martin mounted hose. I’m sure most spies have fairly similar experiences on their way to work every day.
Thunderball represents the silliest Bond film so far, but it also has the most diabolical and terrifying plot. SPECTRE is able to not just get agents close to senior members of NATO, but to surgically alter those agents to be exact doubles of those officials. They are also able to set up this agent to steal two fully armed nuclear weapons to hold the world hostage. The implication of a rogue terrorist organization with two nuclear weapons is a chilling one, as evidence by the gathering in this film of every single 00 agent and the scrambling of global search crews. I was rather saddened that we didn’t see any interaction between Bond and his fellow agents, but you take what you can get.
The villain, Emilio Largo (or #2), is memorable largely for the eyepatch he wears, which you may recall being parodied in the Austin Powers films. Like Goldfinger he tries to seem cool and impressively scheming, but also like Goldfinger he mostly spends his time barely concealing his OUTRAGE! at everything Bond says or does. Really no villain so far has been able to match Dr. No’s menacing grace and cool in 007’s prescence.
Unfortunately the film takes place in the Caribbean again, which means very little new scenery, and the action takes place largely underwater. While this might sound like an interesting switch for Bond, what it largely means is very slow action with faceless guys in wetsuits who writhe around after being shot with harpoons. The henchmen are as dimwitted as ever, drowning sadly when their air hoses are pulled out as if they could not just plug them back in. The underwater scenes were probably a nightmare to film to, though I suppose on the plus side it was the only way to make #2 any sort of physical threat to James Bond.
One major thing that the film does have though is the most fascinating series of Bond girls we’ve seen yet. This is not necessarily because they are particularly well fleshed out or competant though. My personal favorite is Fiona Vulpe, who shows on multiple occasions that she has no problem sleeping with the enemy just before betraying them. When Bond tries to screw her twice and then turn her in like he did in Dr. No, she catches him and laughs that his magic penis has no effect on her, as if she wasn’t at least infected with all kinds of VD at the very least, if not pregnant. No big surprise, she’s dead within minutes. Bond’s physiotherapist basically leaves him alone in a torture device to punish him for his sexual harassment, but then is totally fine with “doing anything” to save her job afterwards (anything is sex in a sauna, which somehow doesn’t lead to heat stroke or suffocation). Domino is such a non-entity that I had to look up why it was she was connected to the plot at all (she’s the dead NATO pilots sister and coincidentally #2’s mistress as well). Basically she disappears halfway into the film, only to show up to have sex with Bond underwater in full scuba gear (God only knows how that would work). Bond’s assistant Paula is the first attractive woman I think I’ve seen that doesn’t have sex with him, and of course she dies without putting up any sort of fight or showing any real value.
The finale has a break away yacht, Bond’s life being saved only by luck and the convenient appearance of Domino, and a ridiculous rescue system involving a harness, a plane, a baloon, AND LAUGHTER!. Pretty much par for the course.
Bond Rating: SPECT out of SPECTRE