Critics Consensus

Lavishly rendered set pieces and Sean Connery's enduring charm make Thunderball a big, fun adventure, even if it doesn't quite measure up to the series' previous heights.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 63,099
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Thunderball Photos

Movie Info

Thunderball finds James Bond matching wits with the sinister espionage organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E, (which stands for Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). This time, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. hijacks a NATO nuclear bomber, hiding the bombs under the ocean depths and threatening to detonate the weapons unless a ransom of 100,000,000 pounds is paid. The mastermind behind this scheme is international business executive Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), who maintains a pool full of sharks for the purpose of eliminating enemies and those henchmen who fail to come up to standard. Dispatched to the Bahamas, lucky Mr. Bond enjoys the attentions of three nubile ladies: Largo's mistress Domino Derval (Claudine Auger), British spy Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick, previously seen as a gypsy girl in the 1962 Bond epic From Russia With Love) and enemy agent Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi).

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Sean Connery
as James Bond
Adolfo Celi
as Emilio Largo
Claudine Auger
as Domino Derval
Luciana Paluzzi
as Fiona Volpe
Rick van Nutter
as Felix Leiter
Rik Van Nutter
as Felix Leiter
Guy Doleman
as Count Lippe
Molly Peters
as Patricia Fearing
Martine Beswick
as Paula Caplan
Lois Maxwell
as Miss Moneypenny
Paul Stassino
as Major Derval/Angelo Palazzi
Rose Alba
as Mme. Boitier
Leonard Sachs
as Group Captain
Roland Culver
as Foreign Secretary
Edward Underdown
as Air Vice Marshall
Maryse Guy Mitsouko
as Mlle. La Porte
Bob Simmons
as Jacques Boitier
Harold Sanderson
as Hydrofoil Captain
Anthony Dawson
as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
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News & Interviews for Thunderball

Critic Reviews for Thunderball

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (7)

  • If Thunderball's gimmickry seems to overreach at times, Actor Connery gains assurance from film to film, by now delivers all his soppiest Jimcracks martini-dry.

    Oct 13, 2008 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Slightly bloated Bond, with too much technology for my taste and a climactic slaughter that's a little too mindless to be much fun.

    May 6, 2008 | Full Review…
  • There's visible evidence that the reported $5.5 million budget was no mere publicity figure; it's posh all the way.

    May 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The fourth Bond, marking the point at which spectacular hardware began to dominate the series. Sleek and quite fun all the same.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The color is handsome. The scenery in the Bahamas is an irresistible lure. Even the violence is funny. That's the best I can say for a Bond film.

    May 9, 2005 | Full Review…
  • In this, the fourth instalment in the series from the original team, you have a classic Bond film that wants for nothing but a trim.

    Jun 27, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Nick Hilditch
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Thunderball

  • Oct 08, 2015
    Rolling with eager audiences like a Ball of, well, y'know, Bond's Thunder-ous A-Level spy game carries on. Indeed, the Midas Touch of Goldfinger continues - though doesn't quite reach the same heights - with this, a rousing adventure that runs a bit too long. Spectacularly big budget, Thunderball works best when it features its amazing set pieces, especially some underwater action that only gets waterlogged when the gulf battles start to feel repetitive. Regardless, it thunders on without becoming silly which can't be said for Connery's last two 007 entries. In this classic spy caper, James Bond (Connery) heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo (Celi) in an international extortion scheme. Ever Bond player proves on top form in Thunderball. Oozing charm in bullets, Connery's fourth go-round as 007 makes battling flag-smashing terrorism seem almost effortless. At his most cocksure and making the role seem more like a charm than chore, this film marks the actor's best Bond performance. Returning to the director's chair after Guy Hamilton helmed Goldfinger, Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia with Love) stages and captures some of the biggest and most explosive action sequences in cinema - let alone Bond - history with great flourish. Without Peter Hunt's quick cutting edits, however, the excitement wouldn't reach such a feverish pitch. If only the producers had him leave out 10 minutes of footage, this only occasionally redundant actioner might've ranked as the series' best. Bottom line: Lightning Strikes
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 01, 2015
    Most of the James Bond films follow the same format but with a slightly different villain and love interests for 007 to go after. Thunderball is a vastly different film than any film in the entire franchise. This is perhaps one of the more controversial of the series because to me and other people, this really isn't a Bond movie at all. Sure, he's going after yet another henchmen or 'number' from Spectre, but the feel and aesthetic that Bond movies have, is not here at all. To begin with, 007 rarely ever shoots his own gun in the film. In fact, it isn't until nearly an hour and a half into the film that he uses his gun. But even that was as a distraction for the villains. A trademark of the franchise is the action sequences and in the tension and intensity they bring to the screen. The underwater sequences look cool, but I wasn't all that nervous for any of the characters. Don't get me wrong, the visuals and cinematography is borderline breath-taking and very deserving of an Oscar for visual effects. I just don't like the idea of a James Bond film 75 percent underwater. I will say I don't think the music has ever been better than Thunderball. The opening credits song was fine, but the score is slightly different this time around and it was incredibly effective. Other than that, Thunderball has a cliched villain (he even has an eye patch), boring action sequences, forgettable Bond girls, and an unrealistic climax. I give the people behind the camera credit for trying something different, being the 4th of the franchise, but it just fell flat to me. +Score +Breath-taking visuals underwater -But why is Bond underwater so much in the first place? -Bland villain -Tired of Spectre henchmen 5.8/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2015
    Thunderball feels like the turning point in the James Bond franchise where the plot becomes less of a focus and more of the film is used on OTT gadgets and trying to better the previous with more action, It's not a bad film it's just dated even for back then, It's a typical Bond plot i'm sure you can guess it, The underwater scene at the end was done nicely but there's not allot to shout about, It loses its charm and the director used the if it aint broke don't fix it way, But I'm affraid this is where the cracks appear during Thunderball and is one of the Bonds that got lost in time.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2013
    Sean Connery gives a charismatic performance in "Thunderball," which is an enjoyable but forgettable installment in the Bond series. The effects are dated, the editing is woefully choppy and the running length is bloated, but the locales are beautiful and the handful of action scenes that "Thunderball" offers are tense and exciting. Plus, that Tom Jones theme is pretty awesome.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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