After surreptitiously attending the funeral of an enemy agent, Bond watches the lone mourner — a demure blonde in a black dress and veil — climb back into her chauffeured limo. He then lies in wait for her at her luxurious estate, looking for the perfect opportunity to punch her in the face.
The blonde is, of course the dead agent himself in disguise. “My dear Colonel Bouvar, I do not think you should have opened that car door yourself,” Bond says after knocking him down, a feat of deduction to which modern audiences can only say, Wha?
Thankfully, the quip is barely out of his mouth before Bouvar throws a knife and the greatest fight scene of the early Bond films is in full swing. Gone is the awkward grappling of Dr. No and Goldfinger: Bond and Bouvar quite convincingly try to kill each other here, doing a fair amount of damage to the furniture in the process. But all this is mere foreplay: after killing Bouvar, Bond makes his escape from the chateau using a jetpack to soar over its walls, where he’s met on the ground by an attractive young French agent and his trusty Aston Martin DB5.
The Thunderball opening sequence set the standard by which the rest of the Bond films would be judged: witticisms, heart-pounding action, attractive women (or at least a guy in drag) and awesome gadgets. And yes, by the way, the jetpack really flew.
Next GoldenEye, 1995