Thunderball ★★★½

Color me surprised, I was ready to disparage this like everyone else, but it's good? Certainly not the snoozer I was expecting, it feels right at home with the previous three. Granted the song is pretty unmemorable (especially after Shirley Bassey's banger), Bond literally blackmails a girl into sleeping with him, the villain is the most boring yet, it's about 15 minutes too long, features animal cruelty up the wazoo....and yet, I think it might be my second favorite thus far? As I've mentioned before, one of the highlights of the series for me is the location shooting, and this mission sees a return to the balmy pleasures of the Caribbean, all blue skies and endless horizons, only this time with an added dose of underwater action. Do they milk the living hell out of it? Absolutely, it feels like the producers held a gun to editor Peter Hunt's head any time the mysteries of the deep were involved; the climactic showdown is so padded you could use it as a mattress. But guess what? It still looks cool! If nameless soldiers are going to die in a skirmish, give me harpoon guns and aquatic knifings over a standard firefight anyday. Goes to show how important cinematography and production design are when it comes to formulaic filmmaking; I know I haven't gotten to the franchise's dark ages yet, but at least the people involved cared about craft. Can you imagine how much more palatable the average Marvel flick would be if Feige actually gave a damn about the cinematic aspect of his so-called Cinematic Universe? As for Largo, thankfully his wet noodle presence helped lend itself to a constant stream of snide insults. Bond takes every opportunity to dunk on him.

And FWIW, because sex appeal is a big part of these movies, holy shit the women are gorgeous.

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