The Fourth Protocol is perhaps one of the only times you’ll see Pierce Brosnan playing the baddie – Major Petrofsky – out to plant a nuclear bomb near an American air base in East Anglia, that could destroy NATO.
Secret Service agent John Preston (Michael Caine) is given the responsibility of stopping him. Cue the cars, a few stunts and the misuse of a Ford Transit, much to the detriment of a Mini… and a few others!
The Fourth Protocol – Cold War car fest…
If there’s a scene that sums up this adaptation of Frederic Forsyth’s novel, it’s an apparently throwaway scene on a tube train. The hero, Michael Caine’s tough guy spy, sees a black youth wearing a CND badge reduced to tears by the racist invective of a pair of Nazi skinheads. Hilariously, Caine punches both of them simultaneously unconscious, before nonchalantly exiting the train. The first instinct was to applaud this altruistic act of militant anti-fascism.
However, the CND badge foreshadows the film’s climax, where a US airbase is under threat from a rogue Soviet agent (Pierce Brosnan) with a homemade nuclear device, as antiwar demonstrators march on the base. From the film’s tone, we’re supposed to think: ‘How misguided they are! If only they knew the work our brave security operatives are doing to protect their freedom to march, the treacherous swines!’
Talking of traitors, one is played by Anton Rodgers, who appeared in the Rover SD1 promotion film ‘Two more for the road’. But I’ll never be able to hear his gentle soothing tones now, without thinking of Ian Richardson threatening Rodgers with blowtorches and pliers. Michael Caine is being played for a fool by Richardson (his boss), the revelation of which leads to a classic Caine put-down: “You belong in a facking museum!”
As for his steely adversary, the casting of Pierce Brosnan is interesting in retrospect, in the light of his subsequent career as one of the more successful latter-day James Bonds. Here he plays the kind of all-round bad guy 007 is always tackling. However, this villain’s ruthlessness and relentless sex drive are remarkably similar to the Her Majesty’s favourite secret agent.
Unlike Bond, though, Brosnan’s character here swings both ways, and as soon as he has finished with his conquests, he dispatches them with Siberian sang froid. As for the other Russians, they speak English amongst themselves for some unknown reason – they don’t even bother to put on Russian accents. And whose idea was it to cast Ned Beatty as a Russian?
On the whole, The Fourth Protocol is a forgettable 1980s Cold War thriller that can be filed alongside the Lewis Collins vehicle Who Dares Wins (1983). Just ignore the scaremongering and wallow in nostalgia for a time when there were two superpowers.
Lord of the manner…
Marines in a Montego
Crash! (Pt 1)
Crash (Pt 2)
One way traffic
*But did you spot the mistakes?
TFP was a film that was actually fraught with turmoil and bad luck throughout its filming and shortly prior to its general release. If you watch the credits closely you will notice Caine’s name appear in the Producers credits during the closing titles. The film was one of Michael’s first forays into movie production and he did in fact stump up a great deal of his own personal money in order to get the film into the can. There were a whole host of problems during filming which included a major scene relocation when a local Council got cold feet about the film and its content.
When it came to final release the distribution company folded which meant the film never got the same level of distribution and publicity it deserved. This was a great shame as Frederick Forsyth novels always made for a superb film – notably The Day of the Jackal being a prime example.
But for the keen eyed, did you spot one or two errors in the film and continuity? There are a couple of bobby dazzlers for the keen viewer, here are just a few of them for when you next watch the film:
The Rover Journey to the Station:
How many of you noted the background noise sounding like the SD1 was a manual car when it could be clearly seen to be an automatic. Also, the engine noise was definitely something four-cylinder and not Rover in tone either.
Finally, there was the well-executed handbrake turn on the platform of St Pancras station. But what were they doing there of all places? They should have been a few miles east at Liverpool Street for Preston’s ultimate destination. I wonder how far he got before realising he’s actually on a commuter train bound for Bedford…
Tracking the Motorbike and the Traffic Jam Scene:
Petrofsky swaps his BMW bike for the car and the MI5 guys track the bike in the Transit. Did many of you spot the van change its colour slightly and flit from a Custom model to an L trim vehicle in those scenes. Also you may have noted the disappearance of the front number plate as the van goes off-road then re-appearing refitted shortly after – something to do with Ford getting nervous about their press vehicle Transit getting wrecked so the production team bought a used one for the film.
The Closing Scene With Preston and His Son:
During the funeral of the MI5 boss, Preston goes to have it out with his immediate superior. Look closely when the Series 3 XJ slews towards the kerb and when John Preston hops out. You can just make out the actor playing his young son in the front passenger seat has been clearly replaced by a dummy.
Finally… A bigger BLARG Spot:
Discerning fans of the bigger vehicles may note the arrival of Mrs Petrofsky as she hops off an airport link Berkhof Everest-bodied Leyland Tiger.
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