CJ Probst’s review published on Letterboxd:
M here again. As you were. Operation Thunderball is a bit different from Bond’s other missions thus far in its storytelling. Though many of the tropes remain, here we focus a lot on the villains and their activity rather than just on Bond. It is huge in ambition and features many scenes that are filmed underwater, taking our favorite spy out of his element and giving audiences a glimpse of action they had not seen before. What follows is my mission debriefing, I hope you enjoy.
Opening: Bond has some unfinished business of revenge where he shows us what he thinks of the LGBT community when he confronts and murders a transvestite. This is achieved mainly by throwing chairs and with the assistance of a fire poker. While making his escape we get our first great Bond Stunt, the deployment of his jet pack. Watch carefully as Bond casually takes the jet pack off and throws it in the back of his Aston with his bare hands. After use the metal would be impossible to touch so this is our first hint that Bond is a meta-human.
Title Sequence: I like the song! You guys get out of town.
SPECTRE HQ: Here we meet Emilio Largo, the suave #2 of SPECTRE as he goes to a meeting in the boardroom of death. Chairing the meeting of SPECTRE’s greatest minds is BLofeld once again with his cat though we still do not see his face. We get to listen to the other members tell of their bullshit chump change operations until Largo stands up and teaches these punks how a real man goes about extorting the world.
Health Spa: This part of the film is where we detach from the others a bit. It is lengthy in story buildup and we don’t only concentrate on Bond’s shenanigans but the also details of the execution of Largo’s plan of stealing some nuclear weapons. The film will switch back and forth for a good while. Bond is in a clinic healing from injuries and almost bites it by being trapped in an automated fuck machine. The nurse thinks it’s her fault and rather than clear her conscience, Bond decides to blackmail her into fucking him. I guess that fuck machine didn’t cause him too much trouble after all. She did turn him down at first after all, he had to try something. This is the first thing Bond has done that sort of bothered me.
London: How badass is Emilio Largo? Well, rather than the usual office briefing I have to assemble a roundtable of all of my OO Agents. Bond, of course, shows up last and fashionably late. Damn him. I love him though. He knows we can’t start without him. Prima donna. While we were waiting I got to stall the room with some great anecdotes of my time in Thailand. So in the end, it was a win for me.
Nassau: Bond is off to the Caribbean to track down Largo. After a brief diving scene he meets Domino, another one of my favorite Bond Girls and the key to getting in close to Largo. Bond’s first confrontation with Largo is amazing and takes place over a baccarat table. He immediately calls him out as being SPECTRE, kicks his ass at cards and then takes off with his woman. Bond is diving into this one head first. No time to lose. He still manages to get invited to lunch after all that. Back at his hotel, we see Bond do some smooth detective work, out a bad guy and then send him back to his keeper to be eaten alive by sharks. Also in this section we get to see that Q is able to leave the lab every now and again for some field time as he gives Bond a few gadgets to aid him on his underwater adventure. Nothing too cool though, he blew his load on that Aston and the jet pack.
Palmyra: After spying on Largo’s yacht and almost getting killed Bond still has the balls to stroll into Largo’s home for lunch. Bond displays some more suaveness as he continues to mind fuck Largo. Funny Fave Moment: In this scene, Domino notices Bond staring at her in her one-piece swimsuit. She says, “I’d better go change.” She comes back in an even sexier bikini. God bless her. The whole scene culminates in a great set-piece that pits Bond against Largo’s pet sharks but he escapes as they do not, “have friggin’ lasers on their heads.”
Fiona: This Italian, redheaded bombshell is Largo’s right hand technically our first Evil Bond Girl since Pussy Galore turned out to be good. Fiona however is as evil as she is sexy and Bond shows he has no opinion of moral character when it comes to getting his jollies. “Do you like wild things Meester Bond, James Bond.” Oh yes. Very much. After shagging Fiona he tries to escape after an impromptu Molotov cocktail fire resulting in his first serious on-screen injury. A chase scene through a busy Nassau parade ensues that may have been inspiration from the St. Patrick’s Day sequence from
The Fugitive. Though it’s a bitch to escape them, he kills Fiona and then the scene just ends which makes no sense whatsoever. Don’t think about this too much.
Sea Battle: The climax of the film comes with an epic underwater battle between the SPECTRE agents and the army of good guys. Harpoons fly, air lines are severed and Bond racks up an unprecedented amount of kills. He even harpoons a guy in the eye which shocked the hell out of me. This grand scene makes the whole movie worthwhile. Bond chases Largo aboard the Disco Volante and we get to see some of the worst rear projection of speeding boat footage, as bad as any in the history of film. It is notable here that Domino saves Bond’s ass and our reign of misogyny might just be at an end. I once heard that the explosion of the Disco Volante was at that point once of the biggest film explosion ever and remained one of the biggest into the 90s. Since CGI usually takes care of that these days it wouldn’t surprise me if it was still near the top of the list. I heard that the concussion from the blast knocked out a shit load of windows on an island miles away. Cool. The film ends with a second impressive stunt of Bond being rescued by a cable capture from a support plane. Probably my favorite ending thus far.
I hope you enjoyed the mission and though many will consider it boring, put yourselves in the shoes of the audience of the time. They had never seen anything like this. Today, we take underwater photography for granted but back then, this was special. Sure it was dreadfully slow at times but it had the same charm as the others and that end battle actually had more action in it than any scene from the other films. Not my favorite so far but a powerful villain, a progressive female role and some wonderful photography make Thunderball a worthwhile adventure in my book.
Thank you for reading and as always, here are my mission statistics from this operation. -M
Confirmed Kills/ 4 Film Total
18/ Total= 40
Women Shagged/ 4 Film Total