Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Fourth Protocol

The Fourth Protocol; thriller, UK, 1987; D: John Mackenzie, S: Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Ray McAnally, Joanna Cassidy, Ned Beatty

In the nuclear weapons agreement, the fourth protocol forbids the use of those weapons through unconventional means. However, the Soviet spy Petrofsky is ordered to do exactly that: he infiltrates the border, presents himself as a British citizen and finds an apartment near the American military base Baywaters in order to there assemble a mini nuclear bomb that would detonate, thereby putting the blame on the US and causing the UK to withdraw from NATO. However, even though he was forcibly removed from his job by Irvine, MI5 agent Preston finds a small disk of polonium in a plate and slowly starts uncovering the conspiracy. He manages to stop the explosion, but is angered when he finds out representatives of MI5 and KGB worked secretly together on this all along.

One of the last Cold War thrillers, "The Fourth Protocol" is a clever and unassuming little film that once again demonstrated the competence of director John Mackenzie. There is an excellent sequence near the start, where Michael Caine's character, MI5 agent Preston, pretends to be drunk just to secretly break into the room of a suspicious fellow agent and detonate the safe just when the clock strikes midnight at New Year's Eve, in order to conceal the noise, that is deliciously and meticulously realized, without any dialogues, and that easily manages to grip the viewer's attention and keep until the end. Pierce Brosnan is great as the Soviet spy Petrofsky, who is almost as an antidote to his future James Bond character, since he is the exact opposite: he refuses to seduce women on his mission and is cold-blooded in his murders. Brosnan's story and Caine's story are separate throughout the film, until they become one in the finale. This is a thoroughbred 'minimalistic thriller', with very little dialogue and many great moments (one of the "stolen" stunt scenes is the one where the MI5 car arrives all the way to the train station and Preston barely manages to hop on the last waggon of the departing train), whereas the only complaint could be aimed at the rather rushed ending and a chaotic "plot twist" which does not seem as a natural follow-up to the previous events.

Grade;+++

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