- Sean Connery as James Bond
- Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo
- Claudine Auger as Domino Derval
- Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe
- Martine Beswick as Paula Caplan
- Rik Van Nutter as Felix Leiter
- Bernard Lee as M
- Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q
After the success of Goldfinger, the Bond series went well and truly gadget laden with Thunderball, the fourth instalment. While not as thrilling or as effective as its predecessor, Thunderball is enjoyable enough and still a fun Bond movie with a good amount of action.
Thunderball begins with a thrilling pre-title sequence in which Bond grapples with an enemy who has faked his death. The ever so suave 007 escapes due to a nifty jetpack and his loyal Aston Martin. We then move onto Bond’s latest mission, which has him searching for two NATO atomic bombs stolen by the criminal organisation SPECTRE. The evil group plans to hold the world to ransom for £100 million or else they destroy a prominent city in the United States or United Kingdom. M sends Bond to the Bahamas to investigate this plan and comes across Emilio Largo, the eye-patch sporting SPECTRE agent who is the brains behind the fiendish plot. Bond manages to get to the heart of Largo’s plot by becoming acquainted with his mistress Domino Derval, who is more like his kept woman than a loved girlfriend who is watched constantly by Largo’s men. Aided by CIA contact Felix Leiter, fellow MI6 beauty Paula and eventually the caged Domino, Bond attempts to avert a full-scale nuclear war and thwart the insidious plan of SPECTRE.
Although it doesn’t reach the heights of Goldfinger, Thunderball has enough charm and action to keep you watching. The gorgeous location of the Bahamas is captured in all its sun dappled glory and really does feature some breathtaking shots. Terence Young, who helmed Dr.No and From Russia with Love, brings his talents to the screen and spins this yarn well with his assured direction. Out of all the Bond movies, Thunderball is the most aquatic. From the title sequences of silhouetted water girls swimming to the underwater climactic battle, the movie definitely has a marine feel to it. Many of the underwater scenes are excellently handled, yet there are some that do seem to last for ages and drags the length of the film. All in all, the action is handled very well and there are some exciting sequences. But there are times when Thunderball veers towards comic strip rather than spy movie, especially with its occasional overuse of technology. Thankfully, these moments are only few and far between in what is still a great movie. John Barry’s excellent score gives Thunderball a sense of pace and some excellent musical cues; the title song by Tom Jones has a bombast that is infectious and the power with which he sings is extraordinary.
Sean Connery is once again excellent as Bond, exuding masculinity, charm and ruthlessness as he tangles with the villains in his way and romances any woman he wants. Adolfo Celi makes for an interesting adversary for 007 in the form of Emilio Largo; cruel, arrogant and menacing with his eye-patch, sly shark like smile and white hair perfectly complimenting his evil, corrupt nature and possessive streak over Domino. The stunning Claudine Auger manages to inject sympathy and pain into her character of Domino, who is morose from the confined treatment that Largo has inflicted upon her for years. Luciana Paluzzi sizzles across the screen as Fiona Volpe, a siren who is bad to bone but sexy as hell and capable of trapping any man in her web of death. Unfortunately the other girl in Thunderball, Martine Beswick is underused as Bond’s fellow MI6 agent and the same can be said about Rik Van Nutter as another incarnation of Felix Leiter. The series regulars are at least on hand to add magic to their brief scenes; with Bernard Lee strict and taciturn as boss M, Lois Maxwell a delight as the flirtatious Moneypenny always chasing Bond and loyal gadget man Q, played with humour and wisdom by Desmond Llewelyn.
Despite its shortcomings and occasional lag in pace, Thunderball is still a great movie and interesting addition to the Bond canon.