The Courier Movie Review & Summary: It Ticks All The Spy Thriller Boxes

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In a still from The Courier Movie 2021

The Courier is a Spy Thriller directed by Dominic Cooke, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch. It flashes meticulous filmmaking and cinematography combined with some fantastic performances. But the pacing derails harshly as we further move into this Espionage. 

The Courier Movie Plot

The Courier is about a regular English Businessman whose life takes a U-Turn as he is recruited by the MI6 in order to funnel information from Moscow and stop a Nuclear war between The United States and Russia. 

The Courier Movie Cast

  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Greville Wynn
  • Merab Ninidze as Oleg Penkovsky
  • Rachel Brosnahan as Emily Donovan
  • Jessie Buckley as Sheila

The Courier Movie Review

The Courier is an Espionage thriller based on a real-life story. It follows the conflicts between Russia and the US and how both these countries are at arms with each other, threatening to blow each other with nukes every chance they get. The film works fine in a way where it does everything a classic period spy thriller should do, but it also doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table. Its strengths are situated in its performances and its cinematography, but the actual pace and plot of the film has a few scattered issues. While it isn’t necessarily a bad watch, it surely missed out on being a great one, because of the fact that it always tried to juggle innovative elements with cliche gimmicks that are overly done before. As a result, even if the film does look pleasing to watch in the end, the core of the movie falls somewhat hollow. 

Greville Wynn (Played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is an ordinary british businessman who has a pretty decent family and one gleeful kid. This Busiman’s life changes when two people from the MI6 approach him in order to conduct a simple business assignment in Moscow. Out of these two people, Emily Donovan (Played by Rachel Brosnahan) actually belongs to the CIA of the United States and this issue directly connects with her because of the tensions between the US and Russia. Grevill then goes to Moscow and meets with a KGB executive who is actually a spy for the MI6, Oleg (Played by Merab Ninidze). They both conduct business on the outside, but their real affairs involve exchanging packages of Soviet Secrets which are to be transported back to Britain by the hands of Greville. This is what makes Greville The Courier.

The Courier Movie Benedict Cumberbatch Owns This Spy Thriller

The Courier is visually crisp and it has some solid production design which successfully recreates both these locations with utmost detail and faith to their period. The frames are moving with the characters throughout the runtime as we go from Britain to Moscow multiple times. The locations and the props and technical details are done with finesse, and it really emanated the sense of a true to heart period depiction.

Same can be said about the performances of this film and Benedict Cumberbatch makes The Courier his own. He absolutely owns every scene he is in, whether he is portraying a bumbling English businessman or a tortured Russian prisoner. His character goes through so many different unfortunate events later on, and as time passed, you could actually see this person deteriorating, both Mentally and Physically. The Russian Guards are not making it any bit easier for him and when they do stuff like taking away his bed from his cell, Benedict sells the emotion with his screams and vails and it truly increased my immersion into the movie, despite its pacing issues.

In a still from The Courier Movie 2021

The Courier Movie A Slow Second-Half

The plot and the premise of this movie is classic Spy thriller and its strength and weakness is that it doesn’t do anything new in this prevalent genre. It almost abides by the rules of the other successful spy thrillers, into creating a movie which doesn’t feel completely fresh or naturally inspired. The first half of the movie is engaging and kept me on the edge, but as the stakes got high, the film somehow lowered the intensity altogether. There were a lot of scenes and plans which felt like they came out of nowhere and we never actually get a semblance of their nature before they ultimately fail and lead tragic events in the way of the characters. Merab Ninidze, who played the Russian spy, portrayed a fearless yet deeply fearful character. The character is supposed to have this humanity in him, even when he is a KGB agent from a different country, and for that reason I actually enjoyed watching Merab perform, the most in The Courier. But towards the end, this character is almost pushed to the darkness as we get close to the hardships which are faced by Greville. It secludes Oleg without any prior indication and then brings him back into the frame as per the plot convenience. The Courier really tries hard to be entirely focused on Greville when in reality both Greville and Oleg served as the protagonists of the story. The other thing which I wasn’t exactly sold on was the Aftermath. We see people working and decoding the info, but the role of that information in the ultimate decision making is shown rather scarcely. 

The Courier still is one of the better spy thrillers to come out. I went in for the thrill but I stayed for the performances. The music felt kind of hit or miss, something which will definitely not stay with me. The source and the premise keep the pace running for the better half, but later on The Courier becomes entirely dependent on its actors and it does work for them because both Benedict and Merab are amazing on screen. Even when I have mixed opinions about the overall quality of the film, I surely won’t mind watching The Courier again.

The Courier Movie Critical Reception 

The Courier stands at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being, “The Courier delivers a rousingly effective old-school spy adventure elevated by a thrilling fact-based story and Benedict Cumberbatch’s nervy central performance.” Its Metascore is at 66 with Generally favorable reviews based on 33 Critic Reviews.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The Courier works on a lot of levels, but pacing and uniqueness is not one of them. It gives some really beautiful shots and performances by the entire cast and that’s where the heart of this movie lies. Benedict and Merab have a very heartfelt chemistry between them which favors the film beautifully. It is really something you should consider watching if you are a sucker for history and good Spy Thrillers