Back in London, time is running out, but M comes to Bond’s defense despite the doubts of the defense minister.
Bond’s got a new clue though-he spots the camouflaged wreck of the plane, although minus the nukes, and with the corpse of Angelou, wearing Duval’s dog tags. He heads back to shore and consummates with Domino (although she gets briefly stung), but once she brings up her brother, he has to reveal the truth to her, and ends up giving her the dog tags, revealing that he’s dead.
She’s initially hesitant to help Bond, wondering if that was his motivation all along (Well, it kind of was) but Bond assures her cooperation by telling her that the nukes might be used if she doesn’t help. He gives her his geiger camera, but as he’s warned by her about Varges sneaking around, he uses a harpoon and we get the great quip: “I think he got the point!” as it impales the henchman.
Bond gets a clue as to where the nukes are hidden by Domino, and sure enough, Largo’s divers show up and Bond blends in, but is quickly discovered and Largo and his crew escape with the nukes-but thankfully for Bond, he’s got his homing device pill, and tells Felix the likely target is Miami.
Largo however has figured out Domino’s up to no good when her camera falls revealing the geiger counter, and he tortures her uncomfortably. However, she’s saved by the intervention of Kutze, who has a change of heart with some “He made me do it!” dialogue:
He’s gone mad! Please talk to them for me. Tell them I only did what I had to do, what I was told to do.
And also that he’s disarmed the second nuke onboard the Disco.
The first nuke however, is making a beeline to Miami thanks to Largo and his army of frogmen, and their harpoon-armed “sea buggy” miniature submarine as it’s called in some merchandise.
Now we come to a huge underwater battle, which I’m pretty sure a big chunk of the budget went, as the marines take on Largo’s men. While the battle might seem slow due to it’s underwater focus, and there’s maybe just a few too many shots of random sea creatures (in addition of course to sharks), it’s still quite impressive.
Bond joins them with his huge “and the kitchen sink” dive rig teased earlier (“On you, everything looks good!” Felix remarks, which joins in spectacular fashion.
Finally, all the frogmen are killed and captured, but there’s a battle going on above too with the navy, with the Disco jettisoning it’s back to run faster-and the “cocoon” is well armed, although no match for navy battleships.
Bond’s able to follow Largo and board the now quickly moving Volante, and once he’s on the bridge it’s quite a chaotically edited fight scene, with punches, guns, champagne and knives being thrown as the vessel speeds very quickly. Largo briefly gets a chance at a shot, but Domino gives him a harpoon to the back, gaining revenge for her brother and also pretty much inspiring one of the film’s publicity shots as well.
Kutze also shows up, and warns them that the boat’s about to crash onto rocks, which it does in spectacular fashion (Apparently the blast broke some windows nearby during filming). They all jump off, Kutze saying he ‘can’t swim!” and leading to either a bit of a continuity error, or the chance that Bond just let the guy drown. Either way, he’s not seen after the jump.
With one nuke recovered, and the other destroyed without exploding, the world is safe from SPECTRE (For now….they’ve got something more ambitious around the corner, as we learn in the next film). Bond gets onboard a raft and attaches a fulton balloon picked up by a plane-a mostly experimental balloon extraction device that’s found more use in fiction, not only in this film but also in the Metal Gear Solid games and Batman: The Dark Knight.
Overall, although it’s got some slow bits and the narrative’s a bit off at times, I enjoy Thunderball the most out of the Connerys, maybe due to the setting, quips, and the enlarged sense of scale thanks to the more widescreen look and bigger budget. It’s not exactly the cold war thrills of From Russia With Love, or the cleverness of Goldfinger, but it’s more fun from my point of view.
James Bond will return in You Only Live Twice!