Benedict Cumberbatch is back on the big screen in The Courier!
Benedict Cumberbatch is back on the big screen but not in the role that many of us may have initially been clamoring for. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (myself included) had high hopes that Cumberbatch might be making an appearance as Dr. Stephen Strange in WandaVision. Still, as we all know, that series concluded without a Dr. Strange cameo. However, Cumberbatch fans can now head to their local cinema to see him. You won’t see him as the Sorceror Supreme, but as Cold War spy Greville Wynne trying to end the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Courier, directed by Dominic Cooke, is based on a true story. It is about a British salesman named Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch) who assisted MI6 in obtaining important Russian intelligence regarding the Soviet nuclear missile program with the help of a Russian source named Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). The Courier premiered over a year ago at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival under the name Ironbark. It was supposed to come to theaters in mid-2020. Due to multiple delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s finally landing in theaters with a change in title over a year after its initial debut. The plot summary may sound a bit grim and bland, and, to put it bluntly, the movie is as well. It doesn’t offer a ton in the realm of suspense and imagination, but the performances and pacing are good enough to get you through to the end.
Cumberbatch lights up the screen as Wynne.
Greville Wynne is a charismatic salesman who can create a casual conversation with anyone he meets. His outgoing demeanor makes him a perfect candidate to be recruited by MI6 to assist in their mission. Through the course of the film, Cumberbatch effortlessly and believably transitions from an easygoing salesman to a paranoid spy in a performance that is grounded and believable.
His wife, Sheila (Jessie Buckley), becomes suspicious of his actions throughout the course of the film. I’m a huge fan of Buckley, who has had memorable leading roles in films like ‘Wild Rose’ and ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things,’ hence, it is slightly disappointing to see her relegated to the role of the concerned wife. However, she does the best she can with the material she has. Ninidze’s performance as Oleg Penkovsky is extremely gripping. Ninidze is a veteran actor, but this role will remain as one of his most memorable performances.
The Courier is apt to get compared to similar spy thrillers like Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, which is a much more memorable film. This movie is only Dominic Cooke’s second feature film, so it may not be fair to compare his work to that of someone as experienced as Spielberg. The Courier is fine enough, but it’s hard to imagine that it will make much of an impact during a time where theaters across the country are still gradually reopening. It’s worth seeking out if you’re really into this genre, but otherwise, you might be better off waiting until it hits streaming services in the future.
Final Rating: 6/10
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