Thunderball

Thunderball ★★★

The one where Bond flees his pursuers using a ruddy jet pack, ‘cos why not?

It’s really all over the place this one. There are brief moments of iconic greatness—like the SPECTRE lair with its rows of agents sweating nervously into their seats, or the mildly ill-tempered sharks swimming about the pools of Largo’s Bahaman compound—but they are few and far between in a film that is otherwise overshadowed by yet more forceful womanising (Bond even employs a spot of casual sexual coercion this time around) and dominated by some downright dumb and goofy elements—like that spinal traction machine with its “stretch to death” function (a fairly major manufacturer’s oversight) and the absurd scuba harpoon battle that stretches on for what feels like eons. Turns out underwater fighting looks daft and just isn’t all that exciting to watch, yet director Terence Young decides to give us as many shots of guys getting impaled through the chest as is humanly possible.

The weakest of Young’s three efforts by far. To think that this was initially set to be the first ever Bond... What a stroke of fortune it wasn’t, as it could well have left the series dead in the water, before it even had the chance to get going.

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