'The Courier' brings a historical spy tale to life
Start writing a post

'The Courier' brings a historical spy tale to life

Watch the "Doctor Strange" actor star in a captivating spy thriller set during the 1960's Cold War era

Merab Ninidze (standing left) and Benedict Cumberbatch (standing to the right, looking to the left) in a movie still photo from "The Courier." Both men are wearing dark suits. It's the early 1960's, and the men are standing outside on a dark street in front of a train station entrance.
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions

Since "The Courier" premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, the film created buzz from critics under its original title "Ironbark." And guaranteed, it's truly a must-see.

A clever and unassuming British businessman named Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is pulled into being a liaison between CIA operative Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). In this spy thriller based on a true story in the 1960's, the covert team tries to prevent a nuclear war and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Courier Official Trailer | In Theaters March 19 www.youtube.com

According to the production notes, scriptwriter Tom O'Connor pored over history books about Russian and American espionage which often mentioned Wynne and Penkovsky's relationship in fragments. Not all of their mission details are on-the-record despite grabbing information from various resources, so it's unlikely that the movie matches up 100 percent with the real history.

But that doesn't take away from director Dominic Cooke's mesmerizing thriller.

The ensemble cast is fantastic with their attention to detail in nuanced acting, from minor uncomfortable facial expressions to clenched hands. Each actor wonderfully reveals a new layer to their character each time they're on screen. When characters like Brosnahan's focused CIA operative and her blunt British associate Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) have scenes together, there's always more to them than meets the eye.

The same is especially true for Cumberbatch and Ninidze, whose character relationship is the key to making this film so interesting. The audience badly wants to see Wynne and Penkovsky succeed, which is thanks to these actors who make both characters likable in their strength, moral compass and humor. And Cumberbatch creates an equally rocky yet believable relationship with Jessie Buckley's character, Wynne's wife Sheila.

The production design and cinematography are beautiful to watch unfold, and it's again a sign of the creators' notable details. In one scene, a room is suspended in the air with rods and beams to prevent someone from bugging their private spaces, a nod to the lack of trust between American and Soviet Russians during this time period.

The only thing that would've improved this movie is giving the middle of the film a face lift. There are times when the story comes to a lull, but then it picks up again within a couple of scenes.

And honestly, it would've been nice to see the original title, "Ironbark," stay. It's original, considering there's another "The Courier" from 2019. But it's understandable considering the film focuses primarily on Wynne's point of view, and Ironbark is Penkovsky's code name.

As a side note, this movie would do well if it was told from Penkovsky's story. So that means someone should jump on a movie idea from Penkovsky's point of view and claim that title.

Having mentioned these minor blips "The Courier" not only deserves everyone's time and attention – it commands it.

Score: 8/10

Watch "The Courier" in theaters starting Friday March 19, 2021.

Follow Samantha Incorvaia on Twitter at @s_incorvaia.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments