The Courier – PG-13 – 1 hr 52 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Sunday March 21, 2021
AMC Kent Station 14 – Kent, Washington
14th new movie seen in theater in 2021
In the early 60s, Businessman Greyville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is recruited by MI6 to courier top secret documents from Russia traitor Olen Penkovsky whom he befriends. If the KGB discovers their ruse, it could have deadly consequences. Based on a true story.
Generally, I’m a fan of historical true stories. The early 60s, when JFK was President of the United States was an especially compelling period of time. You could pick at least a half dozen different stories as juicy material. The lesser known ones, like this story, at least to us make good fodder for a movie.
There was good tension in the early part of the film, setting up how dangerous it could be if the KGB discovered they were spies, but it takes a long time to get to any payoff on this threat. The KGB is never realized as anything more than a shadowy police presence. We don’t get to know any real KGB characters, other than very generic bad guy sketches. This ruins some of the suspense because we don’t get a good sense of who to root against. It’s like saying, the boogeyman is there, he’s in the shadows, he’s watching, but we don’t really get more of a sense than that. Missed opportunity.
Another disappointment is the portrayal of Greville’s wife, Sheila Wynne (Jessica Buckley). Again, she’s setup pretty one-dimensional. She’s a wife thinking her husband is cheating on her — again. Yeah, how many times has that story been told? We don’t really learn any more about her background, motivations, other than to be almost a stereotype. It’s unfortunate because more could have been done here.
The last quarter of the movie everything finally happens. Even though we didn’t know the history, it all seemed predictable. My favorite part was when the movie was over and we found out what really happened to everybody involved. Then we left the theater, recorded the video below and I learned more about the real people involved from Wikipedia.
If you want a more suspense-filled drama dealing with Russia and the Cuban missile crisis, there are several available, including one starring Martin Sheen (look it up!). As a businessman everyman turned into somewhat of an unwitting spy this was interesting enough — mostly due to the subject matter, not the telling of it — if that turns your crank, give it a look, but we can’t recommend.
Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️½ (Kara)