‘The Fourth Protocol’ (1987)

‘The Fourth Protocol’ (1987) I’m a big fan of Michael Caine’s Len Deighton films – ‘ The Ipcress File ‘ (1965), ‘ Funeral in Berlin ‘ (1966) and ‘ Billion Dollar Brain ‘ (1967) – even *if* the films got worse as they went along.

Even though it’s based on a Forsyth book, it’s practically a ‘return to form’ for Harry Palmer – a conceit that’s easily swallowed if you allow that Sgt. Palmer might have to assume more than one paper identity over the course of his career. Sir Michael is in top form here, as is Pierce Brosnan and one of my favorite British actors, Ian Richardson of ‘House of Cards’ fame.

In fact, it’s an altogether plausible thriller – until you get to the American actors. Sure, Ned Beatty and Joanna Cassidy are great actors – but whoever thought that Russian Intelligence agents, save for Brosnan, should sport American accents should be forced to spend a month in some inarticulate American suburb. It almost ruined an otherwise good film. When the round and blustered vowels were rolling out of Mr. Beatty’s mouth, I had to wonder if the film were meant to be a dig at American influence over the UK, much like those xenophobic Japanese monster movies – Godzilla, etc. It was just a bit of a stumbling block to try to paint these Americans as Russians, when they weren’t *trying* very hard to be Russians.

A plus for this film was that it tried, somewhat, to depict the preparations that Brosnan had to make as an enemy agent. Not as meticulous as ‘ The Day of the Jackal ‘ (1973), mind you, but it was on course. I recommend it to fans of cerebral, non-glamourous spy films.

Harry Palmer is back, sort of.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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