On the positive side, Thunderball continues what Goldfinger started, giving us a competent Bond working to prevent a surprisingly grounded and realistic terrorist plot, with some fun gadgets and decent action sequences layered on top. On the negative side, Thunderball continues what Goldfinger started, crowbarring liberal doses of product placement into the plot, ending with a slightly confusing twist that isn't really needed or well explained, and further reducing Bond into a character that should be less celebrated and more behind bars. His indifference to human life in the earlier films can at least be explained away as a coping mechanism for his job, but now he's regularly raping, blackmailing, and groping women, it feels more like he's just losing control of his humanity entirely.
Unfortunately, unlike Goldfinger, Thunderball fails to paper over these cracks with its story. There's nothing overly wrong with the plot or the villain, but neither are that interesting, and the pacing is all over the place; it just feels half baked. Worse still, whilst I understand that the film broke boundaries in terms of underwater filming, good lord they don't half overuse it. There's something almost comical about the slow-motion, floaty final fight sequence, though the choreography holds it together fine at first, but it just doesn't end. Add on top some slightly flimsy and under-explained excuses for the whole fight and it just becomes boring. I mean, why are they attacking Miami? Aren't they blackmailing the UK? And haven't they been paid? Plus, how will nuking a US city help Spectre, surely it just sends the message that there isn't any point giving in to ransom demands, because they're just going to be evil and do the thing anyway? And that's before you begin to question why Spectre are even going to all of this trouble for £1million when earlier in the film they mention that their control of the US narcotics trade is netting them ten times that annually. It just feels a bit silly in that context. Also, killing off the local contact now being a disturbing trope aside, if you're going to do it you should at least give that contact more than a half-dozen lines. I wasn't even sure who she was when she was kidnapped, so why bother having her at all?
On the other hand, Domino is a decent enough Bond girl; I thought the villain's lair was pretty great; the shark tunnel sequence was surprisingly well done and tense; and, again, the actual core plot (right up until the end) was a good one, they just spent too long focusing on the wrong parts.