Director Dominic Cooke brings the life story of British engineer and businessman Greville Wynne to the big screen in The Courier from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) finds himself recruited into one of the most significant international conflicts in history. At the behest of the UK’s MI-6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan), he forms a covert, dangerous partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). The mission to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Set in the early sixties, The Courier is a thinking person’s spy film or, in laymen’s terms, a movie for adults. I did not expect a movie full of death-defying stunts and hand-to-hand combat sequences from the premise alone, but I did want something a little faster-paced. Benedict Cumberbatch is acceptable in the lead role and brings some life to the script from writer Tom O’Connor. I particularly enjoyed his scenes with Jessie Buckley, who portrays his wife Shelia, who deals with her husband’s newfound job and its effects on her family.
I was not familiar with Merab Ninidze, who portrays Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky. I assume the filmmakers wanted us to identify with Oleg Penkovsky, which explains why they chose an unknown actor. The rest of the supporting cast all give paycheck performances. The only one who stands out is Rachel Brosnahan as CIA operative Emily Donovan.
I commend Greville Wynne for his bravery, and while Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job in the lead role, as a whole, The Courier missed the mark for me.
Final Grade C-
The Courier is showing in theaters now.