Life's a Lottery for Bond
"Thunderball", the fourth James Bond movie, is most certainly not a bad movie but they say familiarity can breed contempt and whilst I don't dislike it, it does bore me a little. The trouble is that it runs to the formula which was set out in the previous 3 Bond movies and with many of the same team behind the camera it does feel very samey with nothing really brilliant to make it stand out. It also doesn't help that it comes in at over 2 hours and certain parts of it feel drawn out, be it an over long fight scene or far too much tooing and froing before it gets going. But despite these grumbles "Thunderball" still works, Connery is still both deadly and charming, the women are attractive and there is plenty of action and gadgets as well as witty one liners which lets be honest are the things you expect to see.
When SPECTRE and in particular No. 2 Largo (Adolfo Celi) steal two atomic weapons and hold the British and American Governments to ransom every single "00" agent is called back to HQ to receive new orders. James Bond (Sean Connery - Goldfinger) heads to Nassau where he befriends Domino (Claudine Auger), Emilio Largo's lady friend and discovers that Largo is not only part of SPECTRE but also the man behind the stolen weapons which he has hidden on his boat in the harbour.
So as already pointed out "Thunderball" basically runs to the formula which had been devised over the previous 3 movies and so what we get is James Bond trying to stop an evil genius whilst heading to a tropical location and having his way with various sexy women. It is the same formula which would end up dogging the franchise for years to come and some might say it is amazing that Bond has gone on for so long considering so many of the movies follow the same pattern. And to be honest whilst we get this storyline of Largo, a SPECTRE agent leading a mission to steal atomic weapons and then blackmail the British and American governments you know pretty much what scene will follow what scene till the credits roll and Bond ends up with one of the women having saved the day.
Part of the trouble with "Thunderball" is that many of the same team who made the previous 3 movies are back for the fourth and so you don't have anything different, you get the same sort of camera shots, the same styling and it adds to that almost contempt at being too similar. It also doesn't help that along with all this familiar style there isn't anything really special to make "Thunderball" stand out, the women are sexy and we see Bond use a Rocket/ Jet pack for the first time but there is nothing which takes you aback at being brilliant. And in a movie which lasts over 2 hours it needs that something special to make it worth a while especially when it seems to take forever to get going and then deliver over long action sequences. Even the gadgets which Bond gets to use in "Thunderball" don't exactly fill you with excitement although having Q show up on the island of Nassau does provide a bit of amusement.
But the thing is that with the exception of being a bit too long "Thunderball" delivers what for a long time was expected of a James Bond movie. And of course at the centre of this is Sean Connery who seems to go through the motions as the deadly but charming spy without even breaking a sweat. He looks good during moments of action, suave as he flirts with the women and delivers every quip with a perfectly straight face. And Connery looks happy as Larry with plenty of beautiful women on hand including Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Martine Beswick, Molly Peters and not to forget Lois Maxwell. But what doesn't quite work is Adolfo Celi as Largo as whilst he may have the look of a nasty piece of work he doesn't have the coolness of a master villain, in fact Luciana Paluzzi as femme fatale Fiona is more of a master villain that Largo.
What this all boils down to is that "Thunderball" is by no means a bad James Bond, in fact other than being over long it is technically as good as it's predecessors. But then not only is all too familiar to what we had seen before it also doesn't have anything that memorable about it which makes you remember it, no moment of amazing danger or an amusingly named character.