The Fourth Protocol (1987)
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MI5 man John Preston, whist examining a suspect package
that he had prevented from being smuggled into the country,
finds an item that he is informed is only used for assembling
a nuclear bomb. Preston has found that someone is attempting
to break the Non-Proliferation Treaty's fourth protocol, and
superiors close the file with little interest, Preston takes
it upon himself to stop the doomsday attack.
Studio: J. Arthur Rank
Running Time: 119 minutes
Box-Office (Domestic): $12,423,831
Tagline: "If the Fourth Protocol is ever breached, there would be no warning, just a nuclear explosion from a bedsitter...The unthinkable has just begun..."
Directed by: John Mackenzie
Produced by: Timothy Burrill, Michael Caine, Frederick Forsyth et al
Written by: George Axelrod, Frederick Forsyth
Music by: Francis Shaw.
"You, and your schoolboy politics, and your idiotically conceited faith in your own importance." - Sir Nigel Irvine scolding a defector.
Cast & Characters
Moscow, Russia; London, UK; Glasgow, UK; Luton, UK; RAF Baywaters, UK.
The exact reason why John Preston is assigned to ports duty is glossed over the film. What seems like a plot hole is lacking due to the extraction of a large sequence in which Preston interrogates known Soviet informer Jan Marais. In the novel it is because of the way that Preston handles the interrogation that he is assigned to the menial shipping division.
The fourth protocol takes its name from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty between Britain, USA, USSR amongst others. In the plot,
the protocols govern the movement, use, storage etc of nuclear
materials, the fourth of which prevent the non-conventional distribution
of nuclear weapons (nuclear weapons must only be delivered by conventional
means such as aircraft or missiles). In the story, a rogue Russian
leader conspires to break the fourth protocol and bomb a British
airbase by smuggling parts of the weapon in series of ordinary
Above: Pierce Brosnan
in character as Major Valeri Petrofsky in 'Russia' (Finland
doubled for the country, and every other scene was
filmed in the UK), and Michael Caine as agent
The Bond Connection
Set at the height of the Cold War, "The Fourth Protocol" follows
MI5 agent John Preston who is relegated to shipping and imports
policing for a misdemeanour, but stumbles across a plot to bomb
an RAF airbase. The man responsible, Major Valeri Petrofsky, is
played by a young Pearce Brosnan.
Michael Caine (of Harry Palmer fame)
takes on yet another role as a spy in the plot resembles that of
1983's "Octopussy". The
film's supporting cast includes Julian Glover who, as Bond fans
will recall, played Kristatos in "For
Your Eyes Only". Cinematography was by Phil Meheux who
in recent times has worked closely with director Martin
Campbell, including with the director on "GoldenEye" and "Casino
Royale". The production cheekily reversed James Bond's
codenumber and put '700' in Brosnan's motorcycle licence
plate. This was Brosnan's first film after being forced out of
taking the James Bond role due
to his Remington Steele contract.
It opened a month after Timothy
Dalton's first 007 outing "The
Above: A young Pierce Brosnan stands by for shooting.
Based on the 1984 spy-fi novel of the same name by Frederick
Forsyth, the film is produced by the author himself, along with
Michael Caine. The team recruited a cast of both American and
British screen veterans, but cast a young Pierce Brosnan as the
Russian killer. In a rare twist for Hollywood, all of the actors
speak with their natural accents, rather than attempting a Russian
The production shot extensively in England, including at Pinewood studios. Notably scenes set at the fictional RAF Baywaters were filmed at RAF Upper Heyford, which has since been decommissioned. The name is a take on the real life RAF Bentwaters. For the Russian scenes, a second unit (which included Pierce Brosnan for a time) shot in Lapland, Finland.
"The Fourth Protocol" premiered in London on 19th March 1987. The film opened in America on 28th August to reasonable reviews, jumping to #4 on the box office ranking and collecting $3,636,831 in its opening weekend.
Above: Gordon Honeycombe, Frederick
Forsyth, Joanna Cassidy and John McKenzie at6 a preview
screening in March 1987.
"The story is pretty straightforward. A ruthless KGB head plans to detonate a nuclear bomb close to a US airbase in England so the Brits blame the Yanks and the NATO alliance will collapse. What follows is a good old-fashioned race against time as Caine tracks down his Russian alter ego Major Petrofsky (Pierce Brosnan) and after a hand-to-hand scuffle manages to defuse the bomb." - Variety
"'Protocol' is espionage as exhilarating as the better Bond but with less of the winky camp. This is deadly stuff: We see just how easy atomic terrorism would be." - Washington Post
"The key Russian operative is played by Pierce Brosnan, in what certainly is the best performance he has ever given, as a dark, brooding man with an outwardly cheerful disposition and a perfect British accent. The only person who seems capable of anticipating his plan, and stopping it, is Michael Caine as a British intelligence officer who is in political trouble with his bosses because he's too independent." - Chicago Sun-Times
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