THE FOURTH WAR
(US - 1990)
Cannon, John Frankenheimer's THE FOURTH WAR was a timely winding-down-of-the-Cold War thriller that failed to find an audience in the spring of 1990, bombing in 15th place its opening weekend as the much more high-profile HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER was still playing to packed houses. Though his days as an A-lister were done, Roy Scheider's steely star power and gravitas remained as strong as ever in an intense performance as Col. Jack Knowles, a career Army man and legendary Vietnam War hero with a history of bad behavior and losing his temper. He's been stationed at faraway bases like Manila and Guam and granted the respect he's earned from his service but essentially kept on a tight leash with easy assignments designed to keep him out of trouble. His buddy Gen. Hackworth (Harry Dean Stanton) gives him another shot in the limelight with a command post at an Army base at the West German/Czechoslovakia border. After witnessing Soviet officers kill a potential defector as he was running to cross into West Germany, Knowles starts a pissing contest with Soviet base commander Valachev (Jurgen Prochnow) that starts with snowballs, escalates to rocket launchers, and eventually, an international incident that takes them to the brink of WWIII.