Thunderball ★★★

After directing the first two James Bond films, and letting Guy Hamilton step in for the iconic but underwhelming Goldfinger, Terence Young comes back to the franchise for a final stab. Thunderball is a bit of an oddity in the early stages of the Bond series, combining the best elements of Young's first two installments -- Dr. No's island flavor and From Russia With Love's lean low-nonsense spy plot -- but his style here could be described as languorous. Young luxuriates in the world of Bond this time around, letting little moments linger with the same patient sense of exploration that he indulges during the many impressive underwater sequences. As a result, Thunderball feels low-key as an action-adventure, but more pleasurable than its predecessors as a cinematic experience. Connery's Bond, who begins Thunderball not on yet another dispassionate mission, but pursuing a more personal quest for vengeance, feels like a real character, and the breathing room Young affords him throughout Thunderball makes each of Bond's choices (and ill-fated dalliances) feel a little bit more impactful.