If you know anything about the Sean Connery James Bond films, of which there were seven, you know that the only true-blues were Dr. No (’62) and From Russia With Love (’63) — tough, taut, character-driven, semi-realistic and modestly scaled, at least compared to the installments that followed.

Goldfinger was the first explosively popular Connery, of course, and a huge financial success. But while the first half was relatively lean and engaging, the second half was ludicrously plotted, and it was clear that the Bond producers had decided to weaken the focus on character and double-down on high-tech gadgetry, especially in the case of 007’s Aston Martin.

The opening sequence of Thunderball (’65) made it clear that the silliness was intensifying and that gadgetry was more or less running the show, especially when Connery escaped from a threatening situation with a flying air harness or jetpack, complete with an idiotic-looking crash helmet.

Compare this uninspired intro with the one that opened Goldfinger (planting explosives, white tuxedo under wet suit, bar scene, electrocuting an assailant in a bathtub) or the From Russia With Love opener — a moonlit cat-and-mouse duel between Connery (actually a guy in a Connery mask) and Robert Shaw‘e SPECTRE assassin. The bloom was clearly off the rose, and for purists Thunderball was the beginning of the downturn.

There were three more Connerys — You Only Live Twice (’67) and Diamonds Are Forever (’71), neither being much good. Connery’s final Bond was the relatively decent. Never Say Never Again (’83).

I’m summarizing the Connery-Bond history because three days ago Collider‘s Liam Gaughan, who’s been writing about film for roughly a decade, posted an article and a video essay that insisted the silly Thunderball opener was brilliant. The title was “These Are Hands-Down the Most Intense 10 Minutes in a Sean Connery James Bond Movie.”

Thunderball is widely remembered as one of Connery’s best Bond films,” Gaughan began, “especially in comparison to its three predecessors.” WHAT??

Dr. No was a sexy romance that introduced audiences to the character”, he continued. Bullshit. There was some flirting between Connery and Ursulq Andress on Crab Key but not much else, as the film mostly portrayed Bond as an ice-water operative who had the steel to shoot a bad guy in cold blood.

Gaughan then called From Russia With Love “an action-packed Cold War adventure,” an apparent suggestion that it’s too many decades old to be relevant or gripping, and Goldfinger “a culturally redefining classic that introduced recurring elements that would appear within subsequent entries in the series” — gadgetry, he means. An accurate statement.

“However, the thrilling opening sequence of Thunderball set the standard for what the James Bond franchise’s action could look like going forward,” Gaughan wrote. Allow mw to reiterate that the Thunderball openly flirts with self-parody, and that the jetpack flying sequence invites derisive laughter.

Correction: The most intense 10 minutes in a Sean Connery James Bond movie is the train compartment stand-off and slugfest between Connery and Shaw in From Russia With Love.