The Courier a solid if-not familiar Cold War drama best suited for older audiences
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
DIRECTOR: Dominic Cooke
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Angus Wright, Jessie Buckley, Petr Klimes and Kirill Pirogov
WEB SITE: https://www.thecouriermovie.com/
THE BACK STORY: Greville Wynn (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a simple businessman, nothing more, nothing less. Then his life is turned upside down when a MI-6 agent (Angus Wright) and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan) approach him with a request: Get information from would-be Russian defector Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) about the Soviet supply of nuclear weapons to help prevent a third world war at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
As long as Greville and Oleg don’t get caught by Gribanov (Kirill Pirogov) and/or any other KGB agent, for that matter, everything should be just fine …
THE REVIEW: The Courier is fine. Cumberbatch commits to the role of Greville well, playing him with fish out of water sensibility quite well while Ninidze is convincing as Oleg. Likewise, Jessie Buckley is a classic mid-20th Century housewife as Sheila, demure yet confident and guarded given her husband’s past indiscretions only to reveal a softer side as the story progresses.
In similar fashion, Brosnahan is steadfast in her mission as CIA operative Emily Donovan, playing well against the traditionally reserved British gentleman that is Angus Wright’s Dickie Franks. And then there’s Kirill Pirogov’s performance as Gribanov, a man who is not so much a villain as a man committed to his cause, just as the American forces that are convinced they are right, so is he.
So what then, keeps The Courier from excelling to higher heights? It could be the familiarity of the entire affair (the Cold War has been cinematic fodder for 70 years). It could also be the familiarity of the characters (the tension between husband and wife in Greville and Sheila, the cat-and-mouse set ups as the story progresses with the foreshadowing being fairly heavy to the point it feels a bit too predictable. This does change, however, at about one hour into the story, but there is one grandiose moment that feels a bit to “made for the movies” for its own good.
In short, The Courier is a solid historical drama for those already interested in the subject matter that pays respect to its subject … It just lacks something inherently dynamic about it the way a say Good Night and Good Luck grips you. Think of it like a good meal at a restaurant you frequent. It’s solid, but it’s familiar. It feels like a film for an audience of a certain age, which is a bit of misstep given that it is based in a classic tale of espionage.
And for a man who’s story is largely unfamiliar to the world, you might be wishing there was just a little more than that.
OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):