Thunderball ★★★½

A Year of Film History Challenge
(watching a little bit of film history month by month, decade by decade)
Thunderball continues the Connery-Bond trend of upping the ante wherever the filmmakers can: More brutality! More laughs! More sexist! It's like not only do the women have to get more sexually revealing with each film, but Bond's seductions have to become even more brazen. Oh James.

But this is probably the funniest Bond film so far, so there's that. And the film does a good job of finding new creative ways to inflict suffering on its characters, including a death by speargun that would probably make Jason Voorhees proud.

Unfortunately though Thunderball does sag considerably in other areas. The return to Nassau (which was previously visited in Dr. No) feels a bit redundant, and the main muscle henchman that Bond has to grapple with is boring compared to the likes of Oddjob or Robert Shaw's Red Grant in From Russia with Love. And the film's major set pieces--while technically impressive--feel padded out. Some of them still pass by quickly but others don't, including the big underwater scuba finish (which I feel guilty even pointing out, considering how challenging it must have been to shoot and how impressive it often looks and that it even helped earn the film an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects). Still, a decent Bond picture overall, but lacking that same dynamic momentum that made the previous films such a treat.

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