It is a strange thing about films that are quiet and offer no blockbuster mayhem of explosions or superhero ish behaviour (although they can be very good entertainment) but are thrilling and intriguing from the beginning. “The Courier” is a film that is as old fashioned as the telephones and tellys that were state of the art back in the 1960s. The 1960s – this is the time in the middle of the Cold War where the Iron Curtain separated the East from the West, the Berlin Wall was build and where the world stood on the edge of a nuclear war.
Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives the ordinary life of a salesman who tries to earn as much money as he possibly can in order to offer his wife Sheila (Jessie Buckley) and his son Andrew (Keir Hills) as much comfort as possible.
This changes when he is approached by members of the secret service – Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) for Britain’s MI6 and Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) from the CIA – and asked to become a courier to smuggle secret information out of Moscow.
“I’m just a salesman.”
“The Courier” fits perfectly into the best tradition of spy movies, telling the story without moving backwards or forwards in order to explain motifs. In concentrating on just a handful of characters who are introduced almost immediately, the tension is palpable and emphasised by the setting with its narrow corridors and washed out colours.
“I’m actually having lunch with spies.”
Benedict Cumberbatch who already has brought various historical people to life, including Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking or Thomas Edison (German version) gets under the skin of Greville Wynne, an ordinary citizen who would never have dreamt of being a spy but decides to do what he thinks is right – even if this means sacrificing himself. Without giving away any details, Benedict Cumberbatch always tries to inherit as much as possible from the real person he is about to play. By loosing weight heavily, he himself is astonishingly shining through the role, as if the make-up is about to give way to Benedict Cumberbatch’s own skin. That only adds to his performance which is one of his best and a nod to his Oscar nominated Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game“.
With cinemas hopefully re opening any time soon this film needs a big screen and a big audience.
The Courier, 2 hours
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