KGB agent Major Valeri Petrofsky has been reassigned at the request of the KGB Chairman for a secret mission wherein he is sent to England to establish a residence near an American military base and receive various items from couriers from the USSR. John Preston is the top British spy catcher, currently at odds with his superior because he doesn’t lick his boots.
After he conducts an operation without his superior’s permission caused his superior some embarrassment, he is reassigned to the menial task of overseeing airports and ports. One day one the couriers Petrofsky was expecting comes off a freighter has an accident which leaves him dead. Preston is informed by the pathologist that the man is not a seaman so Preston goes through his things and finds that he was carrying something which he is told is an atomic bomb component. Preston now suspects that someone is bringing in parts for an atomic bomb, his superior doesn’t want to let Preston be proven right so he doesn’t authorize.
The Fourth Protocol is a 1987 British Cold War spy film featuring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan, based on the novel The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth.
About the Story
In 1968 the East-West agreement is established to halt nuclear proliferation. One of the clauses, the Fourth Protocol, forbids the non-conventional delivery of a nuclear weapon to a target.
MI5 officer John Preston (Michael Caine) breaks into the residence of British government official George Berenson (Anton Rodgers) on New Year’s Eve and finds a number of top secret NATO files that should not have been there. He reports his findings to high-ranking British Secret Service official Sir Nigel Irvine (Ian Richardson), who deals with the leak. Preston’s unauthorised method of retrieving the documents embarrasses the acting-Director of MI5, Brian Harcourt-Smith (Julian Glover), and as punishment for his insubordination, Preston is relegated to lowly “Airports and Ports”.
KGB officer Major Valeri Petrofsky (Pierce Brosnan) is sent on a mission to the United Kingdom by General Govorshin (Alan North), the head of the KGB. Govershin’s subordinate, Borisov (Ned Beatty), complains to his old friend General Karpov (Ray McAnally), about his espionage department being stripped of resources and personnel, particularly his star officer Petrofsky. A surprised Karpov quietly investigates and learns about Petrofsky’s unsanctioned mission – to violate the Fourth Protocol by assembling and detonating an atomic device so that it will appear to be a nuclear accident at a nearby military base. It is intended to strain British-US relations and strengthen the anti-nuclear movement in advance of an election in favour of the Soviet Union.
In Glasgow, a Soviet sailor is struck by a truck while fleeing from a port guard. Among the dead man’s possessions, Preston finds a disk of polonium, which could only be useful as a component of a detonator for a bomb. He informs Harcourt-Smith, but is promptly suspended, as Harcourt-Smith believes that Preston is manufacturing a fake incident to work his way back into MI5. Luckily Preston has the confidence of Sir Bernard Hemmings (Michael Gough), the gravely-ill Director of MI5, as well as Irvine, who is happy to sidestep Harcourt-Smith’s directives. Preston sets to work and eventually comes across Winkler (Jiri Stanislav), a known Czech KGB agent, and tails him from the airport.
Meanwhile, Petrofsky meets another KGB agent, Irina Vassilievna (Joanna Cassidy), a bomb expert who is pretending to be his wife. Under her guidance, they assemble the device from seemingly-harmless items and she sets it on a two-hour delay per their instructions. Unbeknownst to Petrofsky, Vassilievna follows her own orders, resetting the delay to zero. After sleeping with Petrofsky, she finds his own secret order to eliminate her and tries to warn him about the double-cross, but he kills her before she can.
The Fourth Protocol (1987)
Directed by: John Mackenzie
Starring: Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Ned Beatty, Joanna Cassidy, Julian Glover, Michael Gough, Ray McAnally, Caroline Blakiston, Betsy Brantley
Screenplay by: George Axelrod
Production Design by: Allan Cameron
Cinematography by: Phil Meheux
Film Editing by: Graham Walker
Costume Design by: Tiny Nicholls
Set Decoration by: Peter Howitt
Art Direction by: Tim Hutchinson
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by: Lorimar Motion Pictures
Release Date: August 28, 1987