The Fourth Protocol -Book & Movie Review

The Book

3.5 stars.

This was the first Frederik Forsyth for me and I was very excited to get my hands on a first edition copy of the book from a second hand sale. Even found a small souvenir inside from the last owner of the book maybe – a sticker with English Cox and the British flag printed on it. A quick Google search told me this was a brand of apples in the UK! Funny connection. Almost like a clue to suit the novel’s genre.

Took me exactly a month to finish as the initial 100 pages were so detailed and had so many dimensions and names and secret service manoeuvres across the MI5, MI6 and KGB that I lost track and interest too. There were some very interesting facts in there too, with Kim Philby as a key character, who I discovered was an actual double agent and defector to USSR, and also a certain section where Forsyth mentions Ian Fleming and how he modified some terms from the real MI6. But I read nearly 70% of the book in the last 3 days and the story picked up quite well. I enjoyed it after all.

The Movie

1 star.

A movie was made soon after the book’s release and its runaway success, starring Michael Caine and a young Pierce Brosnan. But take my advice and don’t watch it. It completely ruins the book, makes several plot changes and over simplifies the whole operation that is actually very very complex and much more interesting than what the film shows. I was surprised that Forsyth being one of the producers of the film allowed that to happen. The one thing that stood out in the book was the absence of any key characters that were women. But the movie takes care of this aspect more than willingly in more than one instance that adds nothing to add to the plot but only reminds us, that well, this is Hollywood.


Haywire…. a little amiss?

I am wondering, whether the movie gods happen to be totally impressed with my review writing skills 😉 or is this just reward for attempting to even write one in the least!!?? I mean hey, this is my third movie in less than a week!! Ok, touch wood , touch wood – I don’t to jinx that track record 😛 (also thanks to a very insistent movie buff who is keeping a record of his own – of being 15 minutes late for both the movies he planned)

So anyway,  today’s flick was the action packed Haywire – which suited the mood, since I caught it in the nick of time.

Hollywood favorite storyline. Agents / assassins hired and funded by the US government to bump off inconvenient men. But when money is the central motivator – even class agents are sold out in a wink. Betray your country’s most valuable weapon and you are in for a ruthless battle to the end.

Though it wasn’t a bad watch, far from it infact -I still came away thinking it lacked something. Maybe a meatier plot – more twists ….. more edge of the seat moments…..more guess work……unraveling of a baffling truth……

But, what I liked about the movie were 2 things:

One. The casting of the woman who plays the central character (Mallory) – Gina Carano. A trained “mixed martial arts” fighter was the perfect choice for a movie with brutal, sudden and very real hand to hand action. She is the kind of attractive but deadly woman you want in this kind of a film – something Angelina Jolie isnt able to do in movies like The Tourist, Salt, or even Tomb Raider for that matter. The fight scenes in these films just aren’t that fun to watch…..

Loved the opening scene in the roadside cafe – where the first major fight takes place. Ruthless. And it happens so quickly that once you recover from the suddenness of it, you’re saying “ouch” at every blow the two fighters deliver each other. But at the end of the scene, I had a satisfied smile on my face – saying, now THAT was Well Done!! Phew!!

What made it so good was that Gina Carano can “kick ass”!!!! and very convincingly so. No fragile woman stuff here!! Infact there is a reference in the film where another assassin is warned not to assume that she is a “woman” – as that would be a big mistake.

Two. The way there is minimal dialogue and distraction where it isn’t required. Just pulsing background score to match the movement onscreen. Allows the viewer to sort of be a part of the moment. Like when Mallory is trying to lose the police on her tail – zigzagging, climbing, jumping, running – but there is no hurry in shooting the scene. The director allows her the time to figure it out and the viewer can actually make sense of where she is going and how she intends to make her getaway.

3 big names in the movie – Micheal Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas – but hardly any screen space so to speak for either. The first 2 didn’t really leave an impression, but I loved Antonio Banderas’ new bearded look – totally dig it! Very real and genuine again – the “not trying too hard” kinda feeling – which is so Banderas – in fact, not trying at all!

But none of them had much time on screen……so maybe that’s where the makers could have capitalized on having these 3 in the film and creating more interesting sub plots.

Channing Tatum is just a side kick to Gina Carano……nothing much to say there.

So there you have it.

I would give it a 3.5/5 just for the 2 main fight sequences and that’s why it is also worth a watch once at least.