Movie Review – The Courier – Well Made Spy Thriller
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Courier
1960’s – height of the Cold War scenario when the two superpowers of the World at that time, US and Russia, almost came to the brink of a Nuclear war. Cuba was boiling over. Nikita Khrushchev and President Kennedy are at the helm of the two nations. CIA and the KGB are on a overdrive and there are agents and double agents swarming all over both countries. The two World Wars are long over but a Third looks imminent in the relentless push to grab the World’s Most Powerful Nation mantle. Though not at the same level of involvement, MI6 also played a significant role in the espionage drama of the time.
This had the temptation of running away with the familiar line that most espionage films tend to take – a shrill tone of patriotism combined with a near partisan stand on the politics of those times. Thankfully, The Courier, avoids walking down that path and takes a much restrained view of things unfolded. Based on true events, it makes for a very interesting and intriguing watch – while being low on melodrama. Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a British businessman, who is reputed to be a slick player in the line of business and miles away from the shadowy world of espionage. He lives in London with his wife Sheila Wynne (Jessie Buckley) and son Andrew.
Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) is a Russian KGB Agent and a senior one at that, who makes contact with the American embassy with sensitive information, and his willingness to defect to the West. The CIA, unable to co-ordinate with him directly, seek the help of MI6 to recruit and provide a courier to connect with Penkovsky and transmit the information he could provide. MI6 zeroes in on Wynne as the possible courier because of his suave demeanor and no distant connection to the world of spies. He would thus, draw no attention from the KGB and can travel to Moscow under the guise of extending his business domain to Eastern Europe.
What follows is first the reluctant conversion of Wynne to a spy, to be run by MI6’s Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) and CIA agent Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan – she of the I’m Your Woman fame, but that came out much later). Between 1960 and 1962, Wynne ran a bountiful courier service between Moscow and London, supplied plentifully by Penkovsky – flying completely under the radar and the sniffing noses of the KGB. But nothing lasts forever, and just as Penkovsky is ready to pull the plug and defect, tragedy strikes!
Conclusion – Movie Review of The Courier
Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant in this – restrained, confident, smart and scared at the same time. His insecurities and fear as an amateur spy appear stunningly real. The amount of weight he loses for the later stages of the film speak volumes for his dedication to his art. He is supported ably by the others around him. The settings are well decorated to represent the 1960‘s Moscow and London and the costume designer has also done great work. The cinematography is splendid and so is the editing – crisp and sharp.
This is a hidden gem folks! I would recommend it to all who haven’t watched it to do so. Based on a true story, everything about the movie is quite believable and the acting – very natural. Go for it!!
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