Bond v0.4 - Thunderball
Well, the time has come. The Bond franchise has finally reached the point of ridiculous. Thunderball is still a good, and at times great film, but I think it’s pretty safe to say, that towards the end of the film, it’s just too damn hard to suspend that disbelief. So picture this - the bad guys boat - the Discovolante - separates in two, leaving a fortified decoy for the coast guard to bombard into oblivion, while the real part of the boat speeds away, converting into a hydrofoil. I’m still with it all at this stage, despite the impossibility of Bond holding onto one of the “foils” underwater… So anyway, he climbs his way into the ships bridge and battles his way through the mindless goons, punching here, kicking there, headbutting and throwing with gay abandon - even with the big boss, Largo. All this while the ship caroons through a rocky reef area, wildly zig-zagging in sped-up film fast motion. This effect is so poorly done, the obvious “blue screen” of old technology, coupled with almost comical fisticuffs reduces the climax of this almost great film to a farce.
So the end is a real let down - but the rest of the film is actually quite good! Most memorable for me is the femme fatale, Fiona Volpe. This monumentally chested firey redhead epitomises the seductive beauty of the sixties femme. She truly is stunning. One of my favourite scenes is Bond catching her in the bath - she asks him to pass her something to wear, so he hands over some slippers! Gold!! Volpe is not the only female eye candy here, with Domino portraying the sultry damsel in distress. With an acting talent equal to a sea cucumber, it’s a good thing she looks good in a bikini - and she really does. She’s more of a clothes horse than anything here, showing off some really impressive and super stylish outfits.
Gadgets - this is where it all happens! The opening prelude to the main story shows Bond assassinating “Spectre 6” and dramatically escaping a fortified castle using a jet pack! :) Why not?? Completely pointless in the extreme, it takes him only thirty or so meters, and upon landing, the pursuers have already caught up to him! Into his legendary Astin Martin for a smooth getaway :) Pretty impressive stuff really - and I believe they actually did use a real jetpack - same as has been seen at the opening ceremony for the ‘84 Los Angeles Olympic Games. We also see use of an underwater “re-breather”, underwater jetpack type rockets, coupled with spears and missiles.
Underwater is really the theme to this film. There are some beautiful shots here, both of the freediving protagonists, and also the good-guy v bad-guy shoot em up scenes towards the end. It’s predominantly filmed in Nassau, and island in the Bahamas, and it’s just beautiful. Makes me want to go! :)
As for the plot - it’s a ripper. SPECTRE steal the identity of a UN Pilot, and sneak him onboard a British bomber for a routine practice flight. The brilliantly executed heist has him steal the bomber, on-board nukes and all, and make a water landing to be picked up by Largo - Spectre 2. They then hold the worlds governments to ransom for an exorbitant price in bullion and gems. All grand and villanous, but generally speaking, done very well.
This enjoyable film really has dated very badly with the earlier mentioned “special effects”. It’s easy to critisise them today, but its well worth noting that the film actually won an Acadamy Award for it’s special effects!! However, using a jetpack, an Astin Martin, a stealthed Hyrdo-Foil and having an underwater war, it’s not all together unsuprising. Great stuff all told :)
Once again, thanks for reading!
James Bond will return in…
You Only Live Twice