42 user 16 critic

The Fourth Protocol (1987)

John Preston is a British Agent with the task of preventing the Russians detonating a nuclear explosion next to an American base in the UK. The Russians are hoping this will shatter the "special relationship" between the two countries.


John Mackenzie


George Axelrod (screen story), Richard Burridge (additional material) | 2 more credits »
4,970 ( 6,357)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... John Preston
Pierce Brosnan ... Valeri Petrofsky / James Edward Ross
Ned Beatty ... Borisov / Pavel Petrovic
Joanna Cassidy ... Irina Vassilievna
Julian Glover ... Brian Harcourt-Smith
Michael Gough ... Sir Bernard Hemmings
Ray McAnally ... General Karpov
Ian Richardson ... Sir Nigel Irvine
Anton Rodgers ... George Berenson
Caroline Blakiston ... Angela Berenson
Joseph Brady ... Carmichael
Betsy Brantley Betsy Brantley ... Eileen McWhirter
Sean Chapman ... Captain Lyndhurst
Matt Frewer ... Tom McWhirter
Jerry Harte Jerry Harte ... Professor Krilov


K.G.B. Agent Major Valeri Petrofsky has been reassigned at the request of the K.G.B. 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 U.S.S.R. 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 which 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 of a freighter and 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, ... Written by <rcs0411@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


On August 28, the Fourth Protocol will be broken in a deadly game of seduction, conspiracy, sabotage...and beyond. The countdown to terror has begun. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The opening prologue states: "1963 - top British Agent Kim Philby defected to Moscow. 1968 - America, Britain, Russia signed an agreement to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. This treaty continued four secret protocols. Today - only one remains." See more »


The SAS squad arrive in two helicopters. One is clearly marked with an authentic looking British military serial on the tail boom, namely 'XV 197'. A British military serial would normally be rendered with no spaces as 'XV197' not 'XV 197'.

A bigger problem is that the real 'XV197' is, or was, a Westland Lynx. The film helicopter is definitely not a Lynx. See more »


John Preston: [Livid, as a defenseless Petrofsky is executed by SAS] We *NEEDED* To *TALK* To Him!
Captain Lyndhurst: [Matter-of-fact] Sorry, boss... orders!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version shown on British Television contains all the violence but is missing one entire scene involving Michael Caine knocking out two racially abusive skinheads on an underground train. The scene was reinstated for the BBC1 showing on 8th February 2006. See more »


Referenced in Pointless: Episode #3.7 (2010) See more »


Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 47
(excerpt from 1st movement: Allegro moderato)
Composed by Jean Sibelius
See more »

User Reviews

Not bad but almost getting there
29 December 2011 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

A good film, indeed, but not so much of an exciting experience to watch it and those who know Frederick Forsyth's works as novelist are highly familiar on how gripping and thrilling his characters and situations are. But the thing that disappointed me the most is that Forsyth wrote the film script and what I saw wasn't so interesting to make me feel great about it.

Well, the story isn't news, again we have a plot where Soviets want to destroy the Capitalist/American system, this time the target is an American base in England. Now, the British intelligence has to find the terrorist before something bad happens. The villain, however, is one man and one man only, a deadly KGB spy (Pierce Brosnan) who has the mission of exploding an atomic bomb on a American military base. The man on his track is the charming agent John Preston (Michael Caine, very good), who has to fight the bureaucracy of his boss (Julian Glover) to finally solve this situation.

The problem I had with the film is the awfully number of characters and tiny little situations where I couldn't understand clearly what was happening, some of the characters motivations as well wasn't good presented. The lack of some great action sequences also bothered me a little, but the ones developed were very interesting (the scene where Michael Caine jumps out of the car, then runs to a moving train; and Barry's crazy chase with the van almost hitting the people).

The cat and mouse game of "The Day of the Jackal" is inexistent here except for the final moments (here's a writer making a copy of himself. The whole situation is so similar that is beyond belief). The appeal of "The Fourth Protocol" lies in the incredible cast assembled that not only includes Brosnan and Caine but also Ned Beatty, Ray McAnally, Joanna Cassidy (quite effective as Brosnan partner), Michael Gough and others.It's not a case of great performances but all of them have decent parts to play with.

Surprisingly strange is the fact of a great director like John Mackenzie, specialist in creating thrilling moments in films like "Deadly Voyage" and "Infiltrator" (both TV movies) seemed a little lost with this script since it's hard to feel some thrill with everything presented (except when Pierce is killing his victims, he's a real stone cold kind of a guy). If the drama is quite hard to follow, the suspense only works for limited moments. But seeing the general picture as a whole you still can have a decent movie, with some good surprises. To me, one random moment that marked me in this film is when Michael Caine beats two racist punks on the subway, that was really awesome. I don't know why it's really in the film but it's a great moment to be seen.

It could've been special but it also could've been way worst, just one step in false and this could be a reunion of wasted talents. Gladly, this didn't happened. Fans of Cold War flicks will enjoy it but be prepared for lots of confusing things. 6/10

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Release Date:

28 August 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fourth Protocol See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,636,831, 30 August 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Fourth Protocol See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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