by @holocronJulie for @FilmCodex
Movie theaters are beginning to reopen. Recently, theaters in Los Angeles, California, and New York state opened for the first time, albeit this year under limited capacity restrictions. Because of this, more films are making their debut theatrically, instead of the VOD model that was used for the majority of 2020. This weekend, Dominic Cooke’s The Courier was released, a Benedict Cumberbatch-led spy thriller about a businessman that gets wrapped up in the Cold War.
Cumberbatch’s businessman, Greville Wynne, is a traditional English man who meets with two individuals to discuss a potential business deal. From this meeting, however, Wynne gets roped into a dangerous Cold War scheme, as he begins to do business in the Soviet Union, meeting with a Russian intelligence officer who wants contact with the English government to reveal nuclear secrets in an attempt to prevent all at war. The director, Cooke, attempts to make this situation to be as intense as it sounds, as Wynne gets deeper and deeper into a situation that only becomes more dangerous.
Cumberbatch is the highlight of this film, as he is in most of the projects he appears in. His portrayal of Wynne, a real person (the entire film is based on true events), is stellar and incredibly convincing. Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, and the rest of the cast also put in good performances here. Cooke’s directing is also solid as he adds excitement to the film with his use of the camera.
Ultimately, however, this movie suffers from a lack of intensity. The real life true story feels better suited as a novel or even a limited series rather than a film. Despite the best efforts of Cooke and Cumberbatch, who both attempt to give the movie the kick that it needs, it still ends up being a relatively slow, unenthusiastic thriller. It’s hard to label this as anyone’s fault, given that the story is told through a series of procedural meetings.
Still, The Courier is still worth the watch. Cumberbatch excels yet again and the film tells an interesting story that isn’t often talked about, albeit one that lacks intensity and struggles to grab the viewer’s attention.
The Courier is in select theaters now.