Review: The Courier

Based on true events, The Courier tells the story of Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) – a British businessman that was recruited by MI6 to help deliver messages in Russia during the 1960’s…just months before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wynne was asked to pose as a business partner to Olgen Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), the highest ranking Soviet official to provide information to the UK.

It’s not long before Wynne is in over his head and things don’t go as planned.

Directed by Dominic Cooke, The Courier is a spy movie that’s more of a Cold War drama than a slick spy movie. It takes a larger story involving Russia, the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis and boils it down to a story about an unassuming man being a major figure in one of the biggest spy operations at the time.

Cumerbatch as Wynne is the heart of the film. He plays Wynne as someone that’s honorable, unassuming, and intrigued with the world of spies. However, he’s not consumed with saving the world like the Avengers or the Fast and Furious team. His focus is saving the people he cares about. The most interesting aspect of the film is Wynne being told he’s just a courier while assuring him that his spy work isn’t dangerous at all. In fact, it was a very dangerous mission that would save lives and put his life on the line. It is a government tactic that’s not only seen in the UK but across the globe. 

The Courier trades the fancy gadgets and high stakes action seen in Bond movies for an introspective look at what the life of a spy would be like for a normal citizen. It’s a spay film that’s rooted in realism from how methodical trade craft can be to the real danger Wynne and others like him were in. If there’s one reason to see this film, it’s for Cumberbath’s performance. He carries the film that keeps audiences invested in Wynne’s fate.

Grade: B-