Movie: The Courier
The Courier Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, Merab Ninidze, Angus Wright, Kirill Pirogov, Keir Hills, Jonathan Harden, Aleksandr Kotjakovs, Olga Koch
The Courier Director: Dominic Cooke
Where to Watch: In theatres
Hollywood has served us myriad classic spy thrillers, ranging from hardcore espionage titles like The Third Man, Argo, The Manchurian Candidate, Charade, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Bridge of Spies, No Way Out and Three Days Of The Condor to the more adrenaline-pumping entries like North by Northwest, The Man from UNCLE, the Bourne series, the Mission Impossible series, the James Bond franchise, Salt and Clear and Present Danger. So does The Courier, spearheaded by Sherlock and Doctor Strange's Oscar nominee and multiple award-winning star, Benedict Cumberbatch, take its place in either of the pantheon of the aforementioned spy movies. Well, not really, but that's not to say it's not a good watch on its own, even if it skins on the espionage stuff for some absurd reason.
So, are you excited about what to watch this weekend or what to watch this week and wondering whether The Courier is worth the trip to the theatre? Scroll down for my full The Courier review...
What's it about
Based on real events at the height of the Cold War between America and Russia (then known as the Soviet Union), The Courier narrates the incidents that led to simple British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) being recruited by the MI6 and CIA, and how he, in cohorts with decorated Soviet Union colonel Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), helped avert the infamous Cuban missile crisis and reduce tension between the two nuclear superpowers to some extent.
Check out The Courier trailer here... VIDEO
Tom O’Connor's screenplay beautifully explores the humanity, trauma, constant stress and perpetual fear that spies are under — a stark contrast to the more romanticized, adventurous tone of several Hollywood espionage films. And both Benedict Cumberbatch and Merab Ninidze lend considerable gravitas to their characters, with the former in particular entrapping us in his vast range, particularly in the final act of the film. The supporting cast also throw their weight in, with Rachel Brosnahan and Jessie Buckley leading the show. Among the technicalities, Sean Bobbitt's camerawork assume a character all of its own, portraying the Soviet Union as the deary, foreboding place it was, while Abel Korzeniowski's background score seamlessly switches from upbeat to brooding as the situation demands.
Where The Courier falters quite a bit is in its lack of actual espionage work, with things happening way too easily, which almost make the real-life heroics of the gents in question seem bereft of peril. We get that Tom O’Connor and Director Dominic Cooke wanted to take a different route and opt for a humane approach, but we're sure that given the positive world-changing effect that Wynne and Penkovsky's intrepidity and sacrifice had, some focus on their spying activities and the tension and uncertainty that accompanied them, would've lent more depth to The Courier's eventual outcome, besides pleasing viewers looking for some actual spy thrills in a spy film. Gareth C. Scales's editing, too, is an issue, with the narrator seeming dragged out in certain portions in the second half despite the reasonable length.
The Courier may lack suspense and not satisfy traditional spy-movie lovers, but it rewards those waiting to be patient and focus on the humanity and life-latering decisions taken by two extremely brave men. Additionally, if you need just a solitary reason to watch it, then it'd have to be another spectacular show by that wonderful actor, Benedict Cumberbatch. I'm going with 3 out of 5 stars.
3 out of 5
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