Show name: The Courier
Release date: 2020
Genre: Spy drama
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan
Directed by: Dominic Cooke
Studio: Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
Length: 111 minutes
I do like a good spy film and, for the US and the UK, there’s never been a better adversary than Russia to star in the opposite role.
Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a successful businessman, married (to Sheila played by Jesse Buckley) with a son and based in London.
He is approached in the early Sixties by US and UK intelligence. The US intelligence officer is played by Rachel Brosnahan who starred in the Netflix adaptation of House of Cards as Rachel Posner.
MI6 are represented by Angus Wright and Anton Lesser. The latter’s character is so mysterious that he doesn’t even get a surname!
Over lunch, Greville is asked to act as a courier in taking an important message to a contact in Soviet Russia.
This is a time of mounting tensions in the West as Russia expands its nuclear arsenal and looks to station them in friendly countries such as Cuba to threaten the US.
Greville is both shocked and amused. After disbelief gives way to acceptance, he agrees to take the message.
He isn’t told who his contact will be, but is asked to where a specific coat pin during his time in Moscow.
During a meeting with a scientific committee, Greville’s intended contact spots the pin and befriends him.
Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) is high up in the Russian state and is concerned about their nuclear ambitions.
He slips a note to two American students one night and begs them to take it to the US Embassy in Moscow.
Oleg and Greville become friends as well as business connections. Oleg passes secrets to Greville who brings them back home to London.
The information gives the US a significant advantage during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is eventually defused. However, the KGB have become suspicious of Oleg and Greville’s interactions.
Both Ninidze and Cumberbatch put in amazing performances as Oleg and Greville. I loved the evident friendship that was portrayed between Oleg and Greville under the most difficult circumstances.
There was plenty of emotion in The Courier but also an immense amount of tension and action. Neither of the men were trained spies, but this gave their interactions sincerity and I found the film very moving.
Thank you for reading my review.
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The Courier was an excellent film. I was hooked right from the initial approach to Greville and was fascinated right up to the final moments when the two men’s fates were revealed.
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