PG, Mature Subject Matter.
Dir: Dominic Cooke, UK/US, 2020, 111 min.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan.
“Anyone with a taste for Cold War dramas will find an intriguing addition to the cinematic library with The Courier, a fact-based story featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as a Hitchcockian everyman who becomes the unlikely conduit to a Soviet leaker of secrets in 1960… British and American espionage officials were understandably eager to gather information from Oleg Penkovsky (the terrific Merab Ninidze), a high-ranking Soviet official who has grown increasingly alarmed by leader Nikita Khrushchev’s willingness to seek confrontation with the West. But they need a way to gain access to what Penkovsky knows, using someone ‘who the KGB won’t suspect’ in order to collect his secrets. They wind up approaching Cumberbatch’s Greville Wynne, a rather staid family man who periodically travels to Moscow on business. ‘I’m just a salesman,’ Wynne protests… Cumberbatch is very good at portraying Wynne as an ordinary bloke thrown into extraordinary circumstances, whose MI-6 and CIA handlers are concerned about his welfare but still willing to endanger him thanks to the valuable information that Penkovsky is feeding them. The movie’s heart, however, resides in the bond forged between the two central characters, whose loyalty to and compassion toward each other eclipses international boundaries and tensions, unfolding prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis as a sobering reminder of the stakes involved…. On that level, and others, The Courier more than delivers.” – Brian Lowry, CNN