A good spy thriller can really hit the spot - but unfortunately, The Fourth Protocol, is really a by-the-numbers exercise in generic clichés that even Michael Caine can't salvage. Not that a straight genre film can't be fully enjoyable - they can be totally and explicitly formulaic and still great; however, this film is really just going through the motions. Apparently, author Frederick Forsyth and Caine were friends and dreamed up the idea of producing this version of his fifth spy novel (after successful films, without Caine, were made of his earlier books: The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Odessa File (1974), and The Dogs of War (1980)). I thought director John Mackenzie would be an added bonus, because his The Long Good Friday (1980) is so great (but alas, he never seemed to have directed anything else that good). Michael Caine is a British spy who is on the outs politically with his "acting" superior when he cottons on to a plan to smuggle an atomic bomb into the UK to blow up an American Air Force Base. Pierce Brosnan plays the undercover Russian spy doing the dirty deed. Of course, there is the usual political subterfuge going on in the background, which pulls the rug out from under the audience (sort of). However, all of this was done so much better in the awesome miniseries (adapted from John Le Carré), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), starring Alec Guinness, and its sequel, Smiley's People (1982). Start there first and skip this one.