Review: The Courier

Back in the day we used to get some really great Cold War thrillers, and other than maybe Spielbergs Bridge of Spies, there hasn’t been a decent one to fill the gaps in recent times. The secret police chasing around in the shadows to prevent either people escaping from the east (Think White Nights or Night Crossing) or stealing some secret weapon or document (See Firefox), Until now that is. Bennedict Cumberbatch stars in The Courier a taught, tense thriller that was released to fairly little acclaim earlier this year, it’s now available on digital and disc and it’s well worth taking some time out for.

The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The film from Dominic Cooke, is back to the old grimy feel of the cloak and dagger films of old with Cumberbatch working for the government under the guise of his business travelling to and fro into Russia, bringing back state secrets to prevent possible nuclear disaster while being watched and possibly caught is a perfect combination, based on the true story of Grenville Wynn, this old school spy story is the perfect antitidote to the high concept, CG laden blockbusters of late.

With some great dialogue and pacing that never veers into pedestrian , which some of these thrillers can, it’s a vastly enjoyable slice of yesteryear, with the period put together in fine detail. The cast alongside Cumberbatch are terrific, Jessie Buckley as Cumberbatch’s put upon wife, who thinks he’s having an affair, not potentially saving the world from nuclear holocaust, is terrific throughout. Rachel Brosnahan as one of Wynne’s contacts in MI5 again, really puts in a powerful performance which enhances and elevates Cumberbatch’s overall performance. But it’s Merab Nindze as Wynne’s Russian contact and Government official Oleg, that is the master stroke in The Courier. A towering performance here as the conflicted man just trying to not only keep his family safe, but also stopping the world from imploding, by merely acting on his conscious is what makes The Courier better than your average thriller currently.

While the film won’t make the box office of something like Doctor Strange, The Courier is a film that is well worth your time, simply because it’s a story that needs to be told and there are some rather fine performances that raises this above the average evening in watching a film found on one of the usual streaming services. The films poster doesn’t do it any justice either, but forget all that and make sure you check it out as soon as you can.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Courier is available now on BFI Player and all Digital Formats

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