By Marc S. Sanders
Director Terence Young returns to direct the most auspicious James Bond adventure yet, Thunderball from 1965.
SPECTRE’s Number 2 officer, Largo (Adolfo Celi) captures a British jet carrying two nuclear bombs, and demands England pay 100 million pounds or he will destroy a location in Europe and the United States. Bond is on the mission heading to Nassau, Bahamas to stop Largo (complete with evil voiceover and eyepatch), and recover the plane with the bombs.
The crystal blue sea of the islands allow for a huge undertaking of underwater footage complete with sharks and fight scenes with fists, knives and spear guns. It remains dazzling how well the footage is. Bond (Sean Connery, actually underwater) is there, easily disarming countless SPECTRE agents.
A great centerpiece scene occurs when Bond gets trapped in Largo’s swimming pool with a thug and three sharks to contend with. All this while Largo covers the surface of the pool with a steel sheet. The moment seems inescapable, and Young shoots a memorably suspenseful action piece.
Connery maintains that smooth, suave composure that audiences became accustomed to in his three prior outings, even if his hairpiece is noticeable and his girth is a little wider. On the beach, Bond takes out a bad guy with a spear to the chest and utters the line “I think he got the point.” It’s perfect delivery for 007.
The girl this time around is Domino (Claudine Auger). She is not the most memorable. A beautiful redhead who is not given much to do, even with Bond.
While the underwater camera work is marvelous, Thunderball is not ranked near the best in the series. It feels a little long even when the action scenes are occurring.
Still, Bond continues to hold up as does the curiosity of SPECTRE. Just who is the man with the white cat? We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.