Wednesday, March 7, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Year 1966
Lightning Bolt is a fun spirited Eurospy flick that takes advantage of the Bond formula of espionage and mirrors it to perfection, only on a much lower budget and with a much less charismatic secret agent. Taking cues from Thunderball, Goldfinger and various other spy iterations that came before it, Lightning Bolt manages to be a fun and entertaining ride provided in part by all the outlandish elements that make up this mad cap Eurospy outing.

The overall plot of Lightning Bolt is that a diabolical mastermind has taken upon himself to sabotage NASA’s space program by devising a weapon that can emit laser waves that cause launched spaceships to crash without reason. Why is he doing this you may ask? Well so he can place a laser on the moon of course. Duh! With this maniacal fiend on the loose, who are you going to call? Lt. Harry Sennet, that’s who. Agent Sennet must go undercover as a rich playboy in order to ferret out this madman before he accomplishes this dastardly of deeds and has control of the moon and ransom over all that inhabit the Earth.

Anthony Eisley plays the role of secret agent Harry Sennet, who is as deadly and cunning as James Bond, but preferably likes to take a more “pay as you go” approach to spying. Rather than using his gun, Sennet most often times opts to use the old checkbook to pay off his villainous adversaries. When that doesn’t work though, Harry gives them the old one, two karate chop to the old kisser, aligning him with the more formulaic style of super spies. Eisley does a great job as the protagonist and even though he isn’t as charismatic as the inspiration James Bond, he still has a few characteristics that make him a compelling secret agent in his own right. It’s a shame that he only got his feet a little wet in the Eurospy genre, because in time I’m sure he would have churned out a number of highly entertaining missions.
Fighting alongside Eisley in this film is Diana Lorys who plays the role of Captain Patricia Flanagan. She’s the spitting image of a Eurospy femme fatale, with that exotic beauty and steely thunder that just captivates the lens and scorches the scenery. She’s a great match for agent Sennet and the two take on a great deal of hair raising moments and memorable close calls. One particular instance has them being trapped in a steel lined and sealed room that conveniently fills with water when an unsuspecting pair of agents feel the need to stumble inside. Like all good agents, the two find a way to survive this trap and luckily for us, continue to get in and out of trouble as the movie continues. The pairing of both Lorys and Eisley is a great match and the movie benefits from their involvement and interactions.

Another beneficial aspect of the production would be the set design. With an obviously low budget and a limited amount of resources, the filmmakers were able to come up with a good amount of elaborate locales for our agents to find themselves in. Take the main villain Rehte, played by Folco Lulli, and his underwater lair for instance. Its architecture is outstandingly obtuse, filled with metallic circular frames and a rotund central hub that appears as expansive and robust as its owner. The structure and mere size of this aquatic palace is a sight and the elaborate nature of the place helps enrich the look of the film, making you believe that the budget could have been much more then first presented. There's also an astoundingly cruel cryo-chamber room, where Rehte can take a gander at the various enemies that he has had frozen over the years. Ah the memories. Overall the underground lair is a spectacular location to end the film on and the filmmakers make good use out of its exciting design and layout.
The filmmakers also allow a great deal of action to take place within the film’s runtime, with fights, chases, and an explosive conclusion that literally shakes the foundation of the movie. For a low budget Eurospy, the ending of this enjoyable film is anything but tame and tepid. With the underwater lair set to implode, Agent Sennet struggles to escape a scene of absolute destruction and chaos, as water begins to consume the main villain’s fortress taking everything with it. The destruction is highly apparent as we are witness to the entire set being flooded with a crimson liquid that cranks up the epic meter in a cacophony of electric sparks and water filled anarchy. The film really does end on a high note, showing all the pep and pizzazz of an official Bond entry. All in all, the film does right by Eurospy standards.

Lightning Bolt is a respectable Eurospy film that takes the Bond formula and unabashedly runs with it. Anthony Eisley and Diana Lorys form a formidable pair and the two fill into their agent roles perfectly, with Lorys looking absolutely stunning in the process. The set designs and overall look of the film is top notch, making you forget about the movie’s humble budget and instead forces you to stop and appreciate the insanity of it all.
From the intriguing beginning where we learn of the diabolical plan to thwart NASA’s space program, to the inevitable demise of the main villain’s underwater lair, the film has enough entertaining moments to make its runtime fly by. When looking for a fun Eurospy film that has the goods, this one fits the bill and then some. Like its title, Lightning Bolt is…..

Guess who fool.

Well looky here. Looks like someone has a dirty bum.

Get your hands off me you damn dirty agent!

I'm not freezing because of the gun, it's that damn shirt.

I like to drive angry.

So what do you think of my laser?

This room is a little chilly.

Talk about the cold shoulder.

Nice place you got here.

So does this mustache make me look fat?

At least this guy is having a fun time.

I think I'm going to be sick.

Oh god, I know I'm going to be sick.

Why won't you just die!

Everyone was shocked when a cat burglar snuck onto the set.

Pretty roomy in here, huh?

You're one crazy bastard professor. I like it!

Looks like she's all smiles.

Bow Chika Wow Wow!

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