The Courier begins on August 12th, 1960, a time for Nikita Khrushchev, and following a timeline which leads into and past the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Col. Oleg Vladimirovich Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), aka Codename: Ironbark, fears his life may be in danger, and asks a random American to take an inportant letter to the American Embassy, but what’s he been up to? Getting ready to send Soviet secrets out of the country and to the West, about where Soviet missles are based in Cuba. Yes, I’m sure the Kremlin won’t mind that…
Four months later, at MI6, London, agents Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) don’t want to blow his cover, so need to employ, say… a businessman who just happens to be travelling to that part of the world.
In a retelling of a real life situation, enter Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch – The Mauritanian – another overlong prison-based drama), and even though he knows he’s getting involved in something shady, he hesitantly goes along with it. However, while he was only intended to play an introductory role, Oleg wants him to be involved some more, couriering info around, but will he do it?
All the while, Oleg is looking to defect to the West, in return for his snooping on the Russian government.
However, for the most part, while I can understand what they’re trying to achieve with creating a political thriller, it’s just quite dull in its execution.
That said, the last third is considerably more interesting as we learn whether or not chickens will come home to roost for anyone involved.
Oh, and just before the closing credits, there’s a few words from the real Greville Wynne.
As an aside, one thing I do love is the depiction of 1960s Moscow. I went there in 1986, two weeks before the Chernobyl incident (not my fault!), but as Greville hands in his passport for checking after getting off the plane, and is greeted by a glum man in a booth who stares back blankly, I experienced the exact same procedure upon our arrival.
The Courier is in cinemas from Friday August 13th, but is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 112 minutes
Release date: August 13th 2021
Studio: Warner Bros
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K))
Director: Dominic Cooke
Producers: Adam Ackland, Rory Aitken, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh
Screenplay: Tom O’Connor
Music: Abel Korzeniowski
Greville Wynne: Benedict Cumberbatch
Oleg Penkovsky: Merab Ninidze
Emily Donovan: Rachel Brosnahan
Dickie Franks: Angus Wright
Bertrand: Anton Lesser
Popov: Petr Klimes
Cox: James Schofield
Lee: Fred Haig
Nina: Emma Penzina
Vera: Maria Mironova
Nikita Khrushchev: Vladimir Chuprikov
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.