The Courier
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
Reviewed by Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Grade: B
Director: Dominic Cooke
Screenwriter: Tom O’Connor
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley
Release Date: March 18, 2021

The Courier adapts the real story of a British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was recruited into service at UK’s MI-6, while being “handled” by CIA operative Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), a Soviet officer in high Russian circles who became an anti-government informant.

The plot is based on real events that took place during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when Soviet ballistic missiles were being deployed in Cuba, JFK demanding their removal, and Khruschev refusing, thus driving both super-powers to begin preparations for a nuclear war while setting the world into a state of panic. The crisis itself plays a secondary role to the personal story of the British, American and Russian operatives.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne, a British businessman who travels to Eastern Europe for business. His manner is pleasant and a “no-pressure” sales tactics make him likable to domestic and foreign clients. At a certain point he is approached by agents from England’s MI-6 and U.S.A’s C.I.A. Though reluctant at first he becomes friendly with his Russian counterpart Oleg Penkovsky, meeting his Russian family, even hosting him in the U.K.

Greville is a married man whose wife Sheila (Jessie Buckley) becomes increasingly suspicious, observing him making frequent trips to Russia and getting into good physical shape. After she asks him not to travel to Russia any longer he starts to “close” his “Russian accounts”.

With blond, teased hair, Rachel Brosnahan, in an underwritten role, gives Emily Donovan a strict professional manner with brisk American efficiency, interacting well with colleges at MI-6.

The Courier was photographed by Sean Bobbitt with London, and Prague, substituting for Moscow, Russia and Langley VA. Costumes were designed by Keith Madden to reflect the dress code of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, just before the fashion “explosion” of the hippie wave that introduced vibrant dress codes in lively shapes and colors.

Director Dominic Cooke presents the first two acts of The Courier dryly, but changes course in the third when the spy cover is blown and the K.G.B. gives Greville Wynne and Oleg Penkovsky a taste of long-term Russian “hospitality” without vodka, caviar or five-star hotels.

The Courier is recommended for history buffs who may not be familiar with the minute details of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Subtitles are provided when Russian is spoken.

111 minutes   Rated: PG-13 © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer

Story: B-
Acting: B+
Technical: B+
Overall: B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *