You are here

The Courier – movie review

Spy thriller inspired by real life incidents


The Courier - movie review

Just caught up with a superb spy movie inspired by real life incidents of the Cold War. The Courier is set in the world post the Second World War II when the world had been divided into two blocks the Western bloc led by USA and other western powers under the aegis on NATO and the eastern bloc known to be behind the The Iron Curtain which was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas, it denoted the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its allied states from open and in direct touch with the West and its allied states. Those were times of cold war.

It was called a cold war as it was a war which was never fought but there were a lot of aggression and rhetorical threat to press the nuclear button both by America and its counterpart the USSR. As the world moved from conventional warfare to nuclear superpower states. The movie captures the period in the early sixties around the time when John F. Kennedy was the president of U.S.A. and Nikita Khrushchev was the premier of USSR and there was a war like situation developing due to the aggressive stance taken by both sides.

The Courier deals with the Cuban missile crisis. To counter US NATO base and missiles aimed at USSR from Turkey, Khrushchev decides on a plan whereby they would place strategic missiles in Cuba which is next door to USA. As any kind of contact or information was not forthcoming from behind the Iron curtain, there was a lot of spy and double agent activity on both sides.

The Western world was on a look out for ways to seamlessly infiltrate into the Soviet system and for this pupose they recruit a British businessman Greville Wynne played superbly by Benedict Cumberbatch to act as a courier for the CIA and MI6 to get information from their Soviet contact Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) who is code named Ironbark.

Being true life events the movie is not a spy thriller with the flamboyance of James Bond but shows a more human face of spying and it’s consequences for the betrayer though it may have been for the greater good of the mankind. The end is achieved as the crisis is blown over but there is a human price in all this and this has been brought out beautifully.

The movie is mostly shot in dark or dreary kind of surroundings giving it an aura of its own. The reason to betray ones country and the bond of friendship that is developed between the lead cast which gives the strength of character to both of them to take that one step to save the other person despite knowing the perils in doing so, gives us faith and belief in these things.

The relationship is beautifully cultivated despite both knowing what they are doing and where it will ultimately lead. The Courier is streaming on Amazon and had a late 2020 release in the US, and it released in the UK on 13 August 2021. A must watch.

– Review by PAWAN GUPTA

Cast of The Courier:
Benedict Cumberbatch as Greville Wynne
Merab Ninidze as Colonel Oleg Penkovsky
Rachel Brosnahan as Emily Donovan, CIA officer
Jessie Buckley as Greville’s wife
Angus Wright as Dickie Franks, MI6 officer
Kirill Pirogov as Gribanov, KGB officer
Keir Hills as Greville’s son
Maria Mironova as Penkovsky’s wife
Emma Penzina as Penkovsky’s daughter

Credits of The Courier:
Production companies 42, FilmNation Entertainment, SunnyMarch
Produced by Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken
Written by Tom O’Connor
Directed by Dominic Cooke
Cinematography – Sean Bobbitt
Edited by Gareth C. Scales
Music by Abel Korzeniowski
Running time – 111 minutes