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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2006
In the 1960s Michael Caine appeared in a series of spy movies as Len Deighton's fictional cold war hero Harry Palmer. Then in 1986 Caine appeared again in much the same mold except in this instance, since it was based on a book by Frederick Forsyth, his character had a different name, even though in image and style he was very much a Palmer clone.
Forsyth has had a number of his works adapted into movies. In the 1970s we had such classics as THE ODESSA FILE and DAY OF THE JACKAL and even Christopher Walken fresh off his Oscar for THE DEER HUNTER appeared in 1980s DOGS OF WAR based on another bestseller. This mid-1980s entry is perhaps a little grittier in tone and more frightening in scope then the other movies mentioned and is ultimately fascinating as much for the picture it paints of the machinations of the intelligence community as for the intrigue played out on screen.
One needs to understand the political context in which this sly political thriller was written to appreciate it.
Today we are consumed with tackling terrorism but back in the 1980s the big threat was the Soviet Union and its nuclear arsenal. Indeed there were regular protests outside the American airbase of Greenham Common when people expressed their displeasure at the presence of cruise missiles.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie for today's audience is the appearance of a pre-007 Pierce Brosnan as a Russian spy. Having been forced to decline the role of James Bond in 1986 Brosnan instead appeared in this movie as one of the key villains of the piece - and what a nasty piece of work he is. Cold and emotionaless Brosnan's character obeys his orders without question and one wishes that he had played 007 more like this. In fact the plot of this movie bears more than a passing resemblance to the plot of the earlier 007 movie OCTOPUSSY though it is handled in a much more serious and plausible manner here.
As with that 1983 James Bond movie, here the KGB plans to explode a nuclear weapon close to an American airbase with the blame going to the United States. With the KGB smuggling in a weapon piece-by-piece the movie follows the plot of the book quite closely with British intelligence trying to track down the Russian agent after it intercepts materials used in the construction of an atomic weapon.
Playing the part of a Russian scientist assigned to put all the pieces together is the beautiful Joanna Cassidy. Her scenes with Brosnan allow the future 007 star to portray a truly ruthless killer for once.
The pace of the movie may prove to be a little too pedestrian for those who are used to the action thrillers of today. It is a more measured and (dare I say it) more intelligent approach to the thriller genre but it manages to ratchet up the suspense quite effectively and is well worth a look-see.
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on 26 October 2013
Michael Caine is his usual brilliant self in this Cold War film from 1987 based on Frederick Forsyth's excellent novel of the same name.

Unlike the James Bond films, this movie doesn't glamorise the business of spying. In fact, it refreshingly shows how mundane the whole thing can be, very similar to The Ipcress File. One point that should be made is that Caine ISN'T reprising his role of Harry Palmer here. This is John Preston, MI5 intelligence officer in the 1980s. He's a worldly-wise type who's seen it all before but remains dedicated to his work at the Security Service. Pierce Brosnan is also excellent as the cold ruthless KGB officer Valeri Petrofsky, who is assigned to detonate a nuclear bomb on a US Air Force base in England.
The film is good in that it portrays the monotony of the initial investigation but as time goes by you can feel the tension rise as Preston's investigation nears its conclusion & ultimately becomes a race against time...
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on 1 March 2014
This is a very good spy film based on Frederick Forsyth's novel of the same name. Frederick Forsyth wrote the screenplay (with Richard Burridge) so most of his original plot is faithfully transferred to the movie. Pierce Brosnan is very good as the soviet agent -brutally cold and focused.Michael Caine is the much older spy catcher but equally determined to stop the soviet spy carrying out his mission .The only flaw is the casting of Ned Beatty as a KGB general(it just grates on your nerves) .The rest of the cast is excellent.Good Movie -Great price.
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on 16 October 2003
This film features Michael caine as a sort of aged Harry Palmer (the character he played in 'The Ipcress File')Who is still involved with the usual devious schemes against the Russians during the cold war. Yes, the usual faces pop up as the KGB Generals but unlike all the other cold war thrillers we find Pierce Brosnan as the KGB spy sent to England for a spot of extreme sabotage. This is a part which he plays well even though he pouts far more than any incarnation as James Bond, (In this film you would think that every time he walks into a room he is looking for the nearest mirror). He does however show us a ruthless side killing anyone he is ordered to from using a knife to the bootlid of his car!

But like I said, Caine's part is the same kind of character from 'The Ipcress File', just as cheeky with a great deal of humour (his insubordination ammounts to the same as a two fingered salute) and his colleague shows the most exciting way to get out of a traffic jam.
The only drawback is the gooey relationship Caine has with his son,fortunatley this is not a big part of the story and is featured very little.
The out of character use of the 'F' word at the end by Caine is a bit pointless and shows that Caine did get rattled even though one of the good points of the film is the composure he keeps against all the amounting odds.
A totally miscast Ned Beatty is a little confusing, Is he another defector or is he really supposed to be a true all Russian Communist?
Having said that the overall impression of this film is one which is highly entertaining, a well made thriller which pits Caine not only against the Russians but also against his disbelieving superiors.(Which is in no way frustrating from the viewers point of view or for that matter Caine's character as he just ignores orders)
At the same time this film leads to the question; Is it actually possible that the Russians could have done something like this? Or could someone else try this even now?

If you have not seen this film and you liked Michael Caine in 'The Ipcress file' & 'The Blackwindmill' (an even better film)
and if you like Brosnan as Bond,(which incidentally the only villain that you think could give Bond the toughest time is probably the character Brosnan plays in this film).
Then I highly recommend 'The Fourth Protocol'. I am still waiting however for 'The Black Windmill' to be released on DVD. (A film which is pretty special to me because I live around the corner from the windmill used in the film. In fact at end you can just see my house.... Oh nevermind).
Buy 'The Fourth Protocol' and watch Michael Caine back to his cheeky best!
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on 20 September 2015
I finished the novel this morning and I thought this was the perfect time to watch the film - as I like to see the differences. As is often the case, the film was not a patch on the book. I felt that the book was so much more complete, and by comparison the film was confused and skipped so much of what made the book so engaging. Overall it was not the age of the material that detracted from this story, but more the lack of depth. Without knowing the story, so much of what happens in the film would have seemed confusing, the plot just seemed to jump from one part of the story to another without any explanation.
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After watching THE FOURTH PROTOCOL, I'm left wondering why British actors seem to make the most accomplished spies in releases for the Silver Screen, both big and small. In my mind, the top trio is Michael Caine (as Harry Palmer), Sean Connery (as "007"), and Alec Guinness (as George Smiley). Perhaps it's because, in real life, the UK's international spy agency, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), has so much more traditional panache than the Yanks' CIA. In MI6, martinis are no doubt "shaken, not stirred". It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the drink of choice in the Central Intelligence Agency is simply light beer.
Here, Michael Caine plays John Preston, a domestic Security Service (MI5) agent on the wrong side of his boss. After being banished to Ports and Harbours, Preston stumbles across evidence that the Soviets are smuggling an atomic bomb into the UK. And indeed they are, as part of a renegade plot by KGB Director Govershin (Alan North) to re-heat the Cold War during the days of détente in the late 1980s. Govershin's infiltrates his superagent, Valeri Petrofsky (Pierce Brosnan), who's assumed the English identity of James Ross, to co-ordinate assembly of the explosive device next to a U.S. air base that stores nuclear bombs. Detonation of the Red nuke will thus be blamed on American carelessness, causing stress on the Anglo-American alliance.
More than a decade after the collapse of the U.S.S.R, the plot of THE FOURTH PROTOCOL, which is above average in entertainment value, approaches being quaint, though the danger of a "suitcase nuke" remains real enough in today's world of pan-national terrorism. The real joy of the film is watching Caine's portrayal of the cheekily insubordinate Preston. (Cheekiness is what defines Caine's acting style and makes him so consistently engaging.)
Brosnan's Petrofsky/Ross is baby-faced and not much beyond just sullen. Pierce has yet to acquire the patina of age that makes him one of the better, though never the best, James Bonds. (Brosnan, sure and begorry, was born in the Republic of Ireland, and is decidedly not British. Perhaps his best spy role - and it was truly excellent - was as the Bond-gone-to-seed secret agent in THE TAILOR OF PANEMA.)
Also eminently watchable is Ian Richardson as the MI6 wallah who has more use for Preston than the latter's boss. (Richardson, if you recall, played the Soviet's mole in MI6 in the refreshingly intelligent TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER SPY, in which Alec Guinness debuted as superspy George Smiley, my most favorite of that actor's screen roles.) I'm always mesmerized by Richardson as his character of the moment swings from smooth charm to understated menace.
Michael Caine's ability to play a believable spook has evolved over a continuum from such of his early films as FUNERAL IN BERLIN and THE IPCRESS FILE to the relatively recent THE QUIET AMERICAN. Whereas Sean Connery has abandoned the genre, and the late great Alec Guinness limited his participation to TTSS and SMILEY'S PEOPLE, Caine continues to venture into the espionage shadow world and THE FOURTH PROTOCOL is a rewarding mission impossible from the past.
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on 29 July 2015
Classic Cold War thriller storyline, a fiery performance from Michael Caine as Preston, Pierce Brosnan also excellent as the ruthless Soviet agent. Not completely faithful to the original book's plot (e.g. the details of the couriers), also misses a large chunk of the story where Preston goes to South Africa to expose a KGB spy. Overall well worth watching and will probably watch again.
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on 26 September 2014
This is another film where the burden of outdated technology rather amusingly dates it. Other things that date it are a some pretty average dialogue and a pretty average plot in the sense that the film is pretty well plot-driven, so twists and turns need to be pretty surprising to work. That doesn't seem to be the case here -we can pretty much see what's happening. In a sense this is Forsyth does Le Carre but without the accumulation of convincing details or characterization. Forsyth deals in ciphers and that might be fine in a big novel like The D of the J as it enables him to accumulate plot details. Here it's all done in less than two hours so unless you work hard on the atmospherics to replace them, it ends up like a 2 hour tv thriller. Caine is a good actor often but probably needs direction more than we think. He's sort of doing a 'brilliant' latter-day Harry Palmer but with none of that character's edge or insolence. Here, he just retains his roughness compared to Julian Glover's caricatured 'posh boy' but his aggression in a confrontation scene is unconvincing with one hand in his pocket. Otherwise it's 'amazing' how he can 'work it out' but no one else can by - err - 'recognising' the guy he once saw. And all because of a hold up outside of Ipswich. On such things did the Cold War depend. It is not unwatchable but there are older films which feel much less 'badly' dated.
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on 3 April 2008
Review only in relation to the DVD detailed below.

The Fourth Protocol ' Special edition '
Studio: ITV DVD
DVD Release Date: 21 May 2007
Aspect ratio 2.35:1

If you are reading this then your on the hunt of the best version and you may be puzzled as to how many different versions there is available.

Yes I have been there before.

Now unless you have been living in a cave I am sure you have already seen this film on TV but the normal TV version uses the Aspect ratio 1.85:1 { pan and scan } but you will be glad to note that at least ' this version ' has the better Aspect ratio of 2.35:1 so you don't miss anything.

I don't have a clue how special the other versions are but at least this version is very good value for money.

For example Frederick Forsyth also wrote the screenplay and he and Michael Caine formed a Company to actually make the Film which goes to explain how close it is to the Book.

I just love this Film and really when you have Michael Caine - Ian Richardson -Pierce Brosnan and Ray McAnally { was the main actor in ' A Very British Coup ' } you really could not go wrong.

Frederick Forsyth always goes the extra mile to research his Books and some of his stories have been echoed in Real Life - lets hope Britain never faces the danger that is central to The Fourth Protocol.

Part of the joy in buying this dvd is that you have a full length commentary from Frederick Forsyth and lots of other extras.

Its a Dvd I will watch time and time again.

Locations - Much of the movie was shot in the Bradwell Common district of Milton Keynes, notably the A-frame house from "Homeworld 81". { It is nowhere near RAF Greenham Common cruise missile base. }
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on 7 September 2014
An EXCELLENT film, set in those Cold War days of the 1980's! Based on a another Fredrick Forsyth novel, this one's equally as good as "The Odessa File" and "The Day Of The Jackal" and has Pierce Brosnan & Michael Caine as leading actors-well worth a look!
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