Thunderball ★★★½

This was never my favorite Bond film and it has been years since I watched it through completely so other people's negative assessments seemed to ring true when I heard them, that it was too long and slow getting started, that the underwater sequences were dull and didn't work because the fighting was essentially in slow motion. Consequently I kept expecting the film to go downhill when I watched it, especially when James went in the water, but it never did for me. It really is a crackerjack film. For starters it has three of the loveliest (and sexiest) women in the series, two of the best post-mortem quips and an actually somewhat plausible scheme (Homeland Security doesn't really worry much about anybody stealing our satellites in space or flooding Silicone Valley, but nuclear blackmail still keeps folks up at night). Adolpho Celi is a worthy and elegant adversary, equally at home as Bond in a white dinner jacket at the baccarat table and mixing it up in a wet suit (not for nothing does he have that eye patch, I think). I do have a weakness for underwater action I must confess, probably the residue of too many episodes of "Sea Hunt" and a memorable trip to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" as a boy, but I found the climactic fight in this on a par with the Gypsy camp fight in "From Russia With Love" in terms of sheer scale, but more brutal with guys getting skewered by spear guns left and right. If nothing else it is an unbelievable feat of logistics and choreography. There is a reason this is the highest grossing Bond of all time.

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