Thunderball (1965) – 4.5/5

thunder

Nearly perfect Bond movie full of old-timey thrills and chills and cool underwater fight scenes and a plot that actually isn’t all that difficult to follow for once. And, of course, Sean Connery’s chest hair. Most important of all, though, the movie is quite entertaining and enjoyable despite its predictable formula, which I barely even noticed for the most part. A Bond film that feels fresh and new despite it essentially being a rehash of stuff we’ve seen dozens of times before? Well damn, I’m impressed.

The film is of course still an older Bond movie, and, as such, is amazingly sexist, especially at the beginning when Bond **SPOILERS** practically blackmails a girl into having sex with him in a sauna. **END SPOILERS** Yes I know it’s played off as a joke of sorts, but wow, can you imagine the main character of an action film today doing something like that? He’d be tarred and feathered. Granted the film isn’t as blatantly sexist as past Bonds have been, but wow, they were truly living in different times back then. Now sexism in film is a lot more subtle, and aimed mostly at men, and usually in comedies. Ah, how times have changed.

The story is pretty good for the most part, though it falls apart a bit at the end. As with most movies, this one is too long by about 20 minutes, with the latter half of the second act taking the brunt of what could have been avoidable had they cut more of it out. It’s not terrible, it’s just not as good as everything that came before it; it feels too stretched out at times, like the filmmakers wanted to squeeze one or two more action beats in before wrapping things up. But the pace is solid until then, the underwater action great and probably groundbreaking for its time, the cinematography/editing controlled and intelligent, the writing smart, and the acting dead on, especially from Connery who didn’t annoy me for once.

Overall, I really enjoyed this a lot. It’s probably one of the best Bond films I’ve seen, full of excitement and action and attractive, scantily clad women, with some nice bits of humor sprinkled here and there to keep things light where appropriate. And the story is so much easier to follow than previous Bond films; it felt good to finally know what the hell was going on for once. Sure, some of the things that happen are silly and require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, like when Bond **SPOILERS** magically spots a sunken underwater plane buried in nearly perfect camouflage, **END SPOILERS**and there are a few technical faults here and there, which is jarring given the polish of today’s films. But those are easy to dismiss.

Great film. See it if you’re a Bond fan, or a fan of action adventure films in general.

 

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