Any hero worthy of their salt should know that unless you are James Bond, you never attempt to undermine a Government on your own. Especially the Russian Government.
Antagonists have tried, but in the real world have failed, to oust the reality of what happens behind closed cell doors. When mixing fantasy with that real world, believability is paramount.
Paul (Bliebtreu) is a German journalist, recruited by Moscow Match magazine to take the publication up a notch or two via its celebrity status. Unfortunately, the legacy of Paul’s Father precedes him and taints any perception of the man himself.
As Paul grapples with the most photogenic of Russian socialites, he battles his Father’s memory, a man renowned for his political journalism and a need to tell the world exactly what was happening on the streets of Chechnya and throughout the corridors of power in Moscow.
Everybody seemed to know Paul’s Father and when a respected journalist is shot dead in front of him, Paul goes well beyond his remit and reports the murder in his ‘party’ section of the magazine.
Cue the entrance of the Secret Service, a relationship with the beautiful and anarchistic Katya (Smutniak), imprisonment and the realization that his fabricated journalistic intentions are incomparable to the work of his Father.
This is a complex and engaging thriller, with an edge that keeps your attention. And yet the suspension of belief becomes a little too much at times.
Paul is a journalist, not a ninja, yet he seems able to deceive, fight and elude the Russian Secret Service. If the pretext of events were to be believed, Paul would have been shot dead within days of his arrival in Russia.
The reality that supports the fiction of the film is disturbing yet not surprising. The brutality of Paul’s incarceration is somewhat lost in his ability to avoid death, an ability that this fiction conveniently gives him when the real world would not.
The Fourth State is very watchable. Movies are all about been drawn into a fictitious world where the hero always triumphs. When a film is so closely aligned to reality however, such triumphs are somewhat implausible.