Verhoeven's Fourth Man was apparently his answer to those carping Dutch critics who had been so offended by the casual working class realism and frankness he familiarised in Turkish Delight, Business is Business & etc. Gone is the simple story line, the concern with contemporary issues, 'offensive' humour and the prominence of working girls as characters. Instead Verhoeven and his scriptwriter have substituted a hot house of religious imagery, 'literary' associations, obscure motivations and a deliberately overwrought atmosphere, guaranteed to please those who value an 'art house' ideal over the rougher (and ultimately more sincere) product the director had been making. Perhaps surprisingly, it is a largely successful concoction, and pleased both audiences and the critics. The joke is still a joke, but it is all so well done, and carried off with such dark glee and verve, that Verhoeven's private fun in his task becomes public. The result is a favourite amongst his films.
Having dished out his creative rebuke to the conservative arbiters of Dutch film taste, it wasn't long before the frustrated director was lured off to Hollywood. Here he achieved a more perfect - and sincere - synthesis of vision, style, and message in the more familiar films that have confirmed his reputation.