Beefing on Bond
1965's Thunderball was originally slated to be the first in the long line of James Bond motion pictures, but due to a major legal dispute, it came fourth. I feel I can say that it served the picture well to have been pushed back. Dr. No had such a small budget and scale, I believe that alone would have harmed the success of the film and perhaps even the franchise.
Coming off of Goldfinger however, Thunderball is far less extravagant in comparison. The story is a simple one -- evil organization steals atomic bombs to hold the world ransom for money -- and at times it feels almost too simple for the scope and length of the movie. There is a lot of bouncing Bond around from person to person, villain to friend to foe to lover back to villain, with some overly extended underwater scenes thrown in whenever possible. At times, it seems almost forced in how drawn out some scenes are, as if they had a desired length and had to reach it, hell or high water. (Water pun intended.)
The only other downfall of Thunderball is that Sean Connery looks and feels a bit weary and worn out, not exactly as quirky and charming as before. This might have been intentional, and it might have just been due to the filming schedule. I opt not to fault him (or the film) for that; it's an easy thing to look past.
In all, Thunderball is a fantastic addition to the franchise, definitely falling into its place in the order. It didn't try to overdo and surpass the extravagance of Goldfinger, yet it still holds its own against it. While the pacing could benefit from some tighter editing, it's an incredibly strong and enjoyable movie with very few actual faults.