KUNR entertainment reviewer Robin Holabird says the movie The Courier offers an interesting perspective on a tense time in U.S. history.
If James Bond qualifies as a superspy, then Benedict Cumberbatch looks more like a bantam spy with The Courier, now playing in theaters. Except that in real life, the character Cumberbatch plays gets credit for a super accomplishment, successful delivery of stolen information that saved millions of lives.
Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne, a bland British businessman recruited by the U.S. to use his regular job as an excuse to make connections in the Soviet Union. Looking totally incapable of driving fast cars, seducing women or firing a gun, Wynne simply carries documents over the border. Scratch that word “simply.” Real risks abound, laid out clearly in a script by Tom O’Conner.
However, real life means that unlike the antics of James Bond, action in The Courier often involves talking a lot and feeling nervous. Working with topflight actors like Cumberbatch, director Dominic Cooke achieves a believable level of tension.
Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel lends a recognizable American presence to the picture as a CIA agent. Merab Ninidze stands out more as the Soviet defector who risks his life to prevent the nuclear war that seemed imminent when the Cuban Missile Crisis struck.
Cumberbatch breaks out of his brash, youthful Sherlock Holmes mode to play a fish out of water, a man few would bother to notice. And the set up proves intriguing.
The Courier effectively holds attention, proceeding carefully with sometimes obvious moves. But, it also delivers valuable supporting material to the more widely known Cuban Missile Crisis.
Robin Holabird is KUNR's entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office.