Drama History Thriller

The Courier

The entertaining espionage thriller with excellent performances and dangerous risks.

“The Courier” is a solid and throughly interesting thriller based on a true story about espionage, sacrifices, and choices. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Greville Wynne, a British businessman, who helped MI6 try to prevent the Cuban Missile Crisis from happening and end the Cold War by penetrating Russia’s Soviet nuclear program. Twice this year, so far, I have seen him in two interesting history thrillers starting with “The Mauritanian” and now this one. I prefer him more in this particular role, because using his native accent and powerful acting abilities, he resurrects Wynne (1919-1990).

In this movie, Wynne must collaborate with a Soviet colonel named Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Nindze) and a CIA agent named Emily Donovan (Rachael Brosnahan), and given his occupation, he seems to be the right fit for this top secret mission. He wants to make sure his wife (Jessie Buckley) and son (Keir Hills) are safe, as does Penkovsky’s family. And by the way, given his British nature, Wynne should refer to him as Alex instead of Oleg.

There are times when Wynne’s wife becomes concerned with him traveling to Moscow a lot, and times when the two fathers are at both risk of being exposed towards the Soviet Union. But given the circumstances, they have to try to pull off this mission.

It’s familiar at times with the family lives and it’s not always understandable during the main mission, but there’s enough details, performances, and dangers to keep “The Courier” glued to your seat. Some of you have been through the 60s, some of you who are learning about this history subject, and some of you who are looking to be entertained by it narrative and tone. I think you’re going to get your money’s worth, because of Cumberbatch and Nindze both igniting the screen as Wynne and Penkovsky, the direction by Dominic Cooke and writing by Tom O’Connor. Their real-life characters keep you involved, and the performances resurrect them.

Despite its familiarity, the supporting work from Buckley and Brosnahan both connect with the main actor on respectively well-acted levels. There are also some beautifully photographed sequences by cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, who matches the international tone with patience and consistence. The best scenes include conversations, prisons, and a “Swan Lake” performance.

And speaking of prisons, both “The Mauritanian” and “The Courier” feature some difficult prison abuse, portrayed in the most riveting ways. In this one, the traitors must be washed, shaved, and shouted at by the guards in the Lubyanka prison. Again, this was based on a true story, so you can easily tell when the movie is true and thought provoking, especially when Wynne’s wife visits him and the guard shouts “sit down,” “no touching,” and “no Soviet information.”

For history fanatics and movie lovers, the film has value, consistence, and thrills. It should help keep them at bay until some of the big delayed movies come out, which should be very soon. For now, you have this international thriller to see in theaters.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

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