Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Director: John Mackenzie
Starring: Michael Caine,Pierce Brosnan,Ned Beatty
Studio: Warner Bros.
MPAA rating: R (Restricted)
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A Soviet spy smuggles parts for a nuclear bomb into England. His goal: detonate a device next to an American airbase and blame the Yanks. In an era when nuclear terrorism is an all-too-real threat, The Fourth Protocol makes for compulsive viewing.
One of Caines best films to this point
My personal view is that Caines interpretation of the character made TFPoneof his best films to date, it reflected the Forsythes hero very acuratelyand was easily the best performance of the film. Again, my view is thatthefilm was grossly under rated by the critics at the time and even todaystands up well among films of this type. Well worth watching eventoday.
Great thriller, first-rate cast
Fascinating old-fashioned spy thriller with (for the 80s) new high techelements. Pierce Brosnan is very good as the smiling sociopathic Russiandeep cover agent. Michael Caine is, well, Michael Caine. Ian Richardson hasa lot of WONDERFUL lines as Caine’s superior. Ray McNally and Ned Beattyarefine as old Cold War veterans whose time is passing.
Exciting and suspenseful, but unrealistic
The film differs from the book in that the crazy right wing politics isleft out. (The labour party is not filled with communists.)
Both the book and the film postulate goings on in Moscow Centre, but itjust doesn’t work that way. Readers of Le Carre’s spy novels would tellyou for example, that "Moscow Centre prides itself in always gettingits agents back (alive.)" There is a James Bond film, Octopussy, with asimilar story, trying to nuke a circus near a Nato airbase in Germany,rather than Britain, but that detail was probably inspired by thisstory as much as the books of Ian Fleming, who worked for NavalIntelligence and would have known better. The Americans were terrifiedof the prospect that a nuke might explode accidentally anywhere inEurope, because the gamma rays would be detected by US satellites, andNato Rapid Deployment Bombers would immediately head for Russia, as areflex action–this could not be stopped. The concern then was what theRussians would do when the RDBs showed up on their radar and there wereno Nato exercises scheduled for that day. They hoped that cool headswould prevail, and that the Russians would wait to see if the bombershalted at their fail safe points. For reasons like this, it seemsunlikely that even a rogue Russian General would arrange for such anuclear incident.
There’s now an official history of MI6, by the way, "The Secret Historyof MI-6: 1909-1949," and a rogue British agent is detailed there, buthe was only a little crazy.
Well done and realistic spy thriller!
Usually we get treated to one type of spy movie these days. This type ismade up of good looking young agents with all sorts of high tech weapons andgear. There are beautiful women who are just lining up to sleep with thegood guy. The Fourth Protocol is not one of these movies and thank goodness!It is one of the most realistic cold war spy movies out there. Despite it’sage(1987) it is relevant to today’s world. There is nuclear terrorism andreal looking spies. Michael Cain plays a British agent and is too busylooking for Russian spies to be sexing up fine Russian female agents. Infact he has a family. He is excellent as the seasoned agent who uses hismind and not gadgets to track down the Russian spy played by Pierce Brosnan.For those of you who saw Brosnan in Tailor of Panama and found it refreshingto see him play a creep secret agent will be in for a real treat in TheFourth Protocol. Brosnan plays Petrofsky, a young hot shot KGB agent whotries to slice and dice his way to the top. I mean Petrofsky is a flat outcold blooded killer. He makes the guy in Tailor of Panama look like a saint.He has a conscience but he doesn’t let it get in the way of his mission toexplode a nuclear weapon on a US Air Force base in Great Britain in order tomake it look like the US had a nuclear accident. Petrofsky was the right manfor the job he would blow up two or three thousand people just like that. Ifhe wasn’t a KGB agent, he could surely find work as a serial killer.
The story moves along quickly and sometimes a bit too quickly. However itdoesn’t detract from the movie. The movie looks more like a cop movie in theway the investigation unfolds. When they finally find out what’s going onthere is a good action sequence that doesn’t go over the top. It just servesthe purpose in this movie. Other things I liked was the scene where theyconstructed the bomb.
I would recommend this one to anyone who likes spy movies and are tired ofthe James Bond rigmarole.
I was quite surprised to see that this movie got a 5.9 rating. I think thatit’s a lot better than that. Brosnan is good, the plot is sufficientlytricky to be interesting, and Caine delivers the kind of reliable,excellentperformance that you can count on (at least when the movie isn’t total junk– he only seems to phone it in when the movie is entirely hopeless). Theending is a little abrupt, but I can’t find any fault with it other thanthat. (The cast is uniformly strong, too.) Maybe people underrate the moviebecause the movie is low-budget. It looks like a British TV-movie, andmaybeit was, but I find it easy to get past the production values when theactingis good.
I’ve seen it twice, and it holds up to a second viewing.
some comments on this film have stated that there are unnecessarykillings of agents or witnesses, this is done to show the politics ofthe film and how there must be no trace back to those who planned theoperation, whilst also portraying that petrofsky is a lethal killer,and as Caine says in the film "the best". A great story, and verybelievable, spies that remain hidden from each other and noexcruciating scene where the bad guy reveals his plot to the good guy.Would have been interesting to see what would have happened if theoperation had turned out differently, or the ending for that matter!
Of course one of the best things about this film is the acting aspreviously stated by other people. Caine brings his character to lifeand is very believable in the role of John Preston, the agent whocares, and will "bend" the rules to make sure things get down. Brosnanis similarly good, his character will stop at nothing to complete hismission, he is a stone cold killer and this is portrayed well, hedoesn’t let anything get in the way of the mission.
All in all a very good little film, much better than some of the tripewe get from Hollywood and with one of the finest British casts i’veseen in some time.
Aged Well – Like Vintage Port
I hadn’t seen this for ages. Then it was given away free with the DailyMail.It really has aged well. The plot is still believable. Justsubstitute Islamic terrorists for Russian ones. Caine was brilliant anddoing his ‘laser’ style acting in all the close ups. Something hedoesn’t bother with in his many pot boilers. I have to agree with someof the other posters. It really should have been promoted as HarryPalmer’s midlife crisis. He would have developed just like this. Thehero in the book reads like an ex-Para version of Freddie Forsythe.Caine makes the role his own and adds his own interpretation. Anotherof my favourites Pierce Brosnan acts his heart out too, as the stonekiller Petrofsky. The Ian Richardson and Anton Rogers scene has to be acareer best for both of them. Only a side plot but absolutelybrilliant.
Solid adaptation of a brilliant novel
The best Spy Thriller’s have all sorts of twists and turns and goodintrigue. They involve a flawed, but strong protagonist and a cold,devious antagonist for them to go up against. There’s always some plotthat will be the cause of the deaths of many and the destruction ofsomething of extreme importance. Frederick Forsyth is one of the topwriters of the genre, so it’s no surprise that some of his works wouldbe adapted into films. This is the third film based on one of his booksand overall is a very good and highly enjoyable one, but definitely notperfect. It’s tough to make a satisfying adaptation of a criticallyacclaimed novel, and the makers of this film succeeded for the mostpart.
Pros: Excellent performances all across the board. Beautifully scoredby Lalo Schifrin. Engaging story. Suspenseful. Very well paced.Director John Mackenzie does a great job of mounting tension. Plenty ofgood twists and turns. Many liberties are taken with the novel, butregardless the script is very well written and does a pretty good jobof condensing.
Cons: The actors playing the Russian agents do fine, but the lack of anaccent in all cases is distracting. Aside from a few good shots, thefilm looks more like it was made for TV. Kind of a rushed resolution.
Final thoughts: Films based on books are so rarely as good as or evenbetter than them. It’s a really difficult task that comes with a lot ofpressure and sometimes the result is worthy. Such is the case with the’The Fourth Protocol.’ There is certainly a lot from the book notcovered here, but the competency of all involved mostly makes up forthat. Fans of the book should find much to like here, just don’t expectto be blown away at the same level.
My rating: 4/5
At this stage of his career Pierce Brosnan was only known to me for hispart in Remington Steele which was a fairly light role.
In fact James Bond is a fairly harmless character compared to theruthless agent he plays in this film. The urgency of his acting is thefeature of this film.
Caine’s character is engaging but fails to keep pace with Brosnan’sPetrofsky.
I watched this on cable television in my hotel and was guessingthroughout what year it might be by the devices used and cars driven.
Another chilling role was the authoritative Sir Nigel Irvine played bythe late Ian Richardson who dresses down the gormless character AntonRogers plays "a treat." As Richardson rates amongst my top 5 actors itwas a very enjoyable part of the film for me.
Out of interest John Hurt, Alan Bates, Humphrey Bogart and EdwardWoodward would be the other four.
The Fourth Protocol may not be more than a basic thriller, but it’s soengaging and impeccably executed that you hardly realize it. The filmstandsvery well as a whole; it’s elaborately paced, thoroughly well-acted andexpertly directed by John MacKenzie. If there’s one flaw, it’s indeed theterribly abrupt ending which doesn’t do the film justice.