Budget: $9 million. Opening dates: UK December 29, 1965; US December 21, 1965
Worldwide Box Office: $141.2 million
Bond is back and truly better than ever! For the longest time I couldn't find this film anywhere, it seems it had gone out of print and no one had it for rent and those who where selling it wanted outrageous prices. Well finally it was re-released and I obtained my copy from Netflix sometime ago to discover this fourth installment in the James Bond franchise seems to do about everything right.
In this installment we witness the reemergence of the secret group of terrorists known as SPECTRE. They send out their number two man, Emilio Largo, to steal two nuclear bombs off a NATO Vulcan bomber in order to threaten the United Kingdom and the USA for ransom. If their demands are not met one of the nuclear bombs will be detonated on Miami, Florida to prove their seriousness. For a task that seems nearly impossible Largo pulls it all off quite well.
Largo finds himself a young companion, Dominique ‘Domino’ Derval, whose brother happens to be a NATO pilot on the Vulcan bomber. He has Derval killed and replaced with a surgically altered duplicate, whose then able to board the plane, kill the other pilots and successfully deliver the nuclear weapons to the specified location.
Hidden at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Miami lays the stolen jet and the deadly weapons, now Largo must retrieve the bombs and await cooperation from the UK to deliver the ransom money or their denial will be responsible for a nuclear fallout. But British intelligence isn't about to hand over millions of dollars and give into SPECTRE demands. Besides it's unlikely they would follow through with their end of the bargain and return the weapons.
Therefore British intelligence sees fit to try and locate the hiding place of the bombs and retrieve them before SPECTRE follows through. To do so they call together all 00 agents and provide each of them with a special assignment. Once Bond gets a look at Domino Derval in a surveillance photo he instantly requests reassignment to retrieve information from the buxom beauty, having recently discovered that it was her brother who had been killed and replaced in order to obtain the bombs.
Bond makes his way to Miami where he'll face his greatest challenge yet, in an underwater adventure that is sure to offer excitement, action, adventure, and of course some very lovely ladies. But the only way he'll live to enjoy the fruits of his labor is if he's able to uncover the hiding place of the bombs and stay alive long enough to stop Largo and once again take down SPECTRE!
Thunderball capitalizes on the successes of the first three Bond films, making everything bigger and better, such as the opening scene with Bond escaping on a jet-pack, and the ending with Bond being rescued by a plane while attached to a harness. But what really sets the film apart from the others is the underwater fight sequences definitely setting this fourth installment in a league of its own.
In my opinon Thunderball is the best of the first four films, evening topping Goldfinger in some aspects. For one reason the plot is a lot more believable compared to Bond's previous adventures. Breaking into Fort Knox to contaminate the gold supply is far from believable. Stealing a couple of nuclear weapons and threatening to blow up a city, if ransom is not paid is at least plausible. In the end, Sean Connery delivers another grand performance as the best James Bond; the story is filled with non stop action, girls and gadgets.