Director: Dominic Cooke
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan
Release Date: June 1, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
In this true-life Cold War spy thriller, unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes entangled in one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Recruited by MI6 and a CIA operative (Angus Wright and 2018 Primetime Emmy® and 2018 & 2019 Golden Globe® winner Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Best Actress in a TV Comedy Series), Wynne forms a covert partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), and both men risk everything in a danger-fraught race against time to provide the intelligence needed to prevent nuclear confrontation and end the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Please Note: Lionsgate Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘The Courier’ tells the true life Cold War spy story of average British businessman Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch) who was recruited by MI6 and the CIA due to his unassuming nature in order to pass information from Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Ninidze), a top secret source deep within. Initially hesitant to accommodate the request, Greville eventually accepts and as his interactions with Oleg continue under the facade of an ordinary business partnership, the two begin to build a bond as they risk everything in a desperate attempt to end the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Directed by Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach) from a screenplay written by Tom O’Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Cooke does a great job at the helm of ‘The Courier’ guiding along this tense and powerful spy thriller with style and care. The film also owes plenty of credit to the well selected cast which includes Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Merab Ninidze (TV’s Homeland), Rachel Brosnahan (TV’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Jessie Buckley (TV’s Fargo), Angus Wright (The Iron Lady) and more, with nearly all providing solid performances in each of their respective roles for the most part, especially Cumberbatch and Ninidze who are both quite magnificent as the primary leads.
‘The Courier’ is a smart, stylish and powerful spy thriller that pays constant homage to the beloved spy adventures of old while always keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat. Providing a heartfelt and relatable exploration of our two leads and the friendship and bond that forms between them, while also taking the time to dive into their family lives and the various tensions and concerns that cause further difficulty in their personal lives amidst their stressful mission; all of which only allows us to deeply care about these characters while also making the tension even more palpable as things become more dangerous and uncertain for each. It’s a smartly crafted thriller that doesn’t ignore the small details and elements of the time period, which when paired with the sleek screenplay and a collection of well selected cast members makes for a pretty great film in most respects and one that fans of similar films probably won’t want to overlook. I would definitely encourage trying to find the time to check out ‘The Courier’ whenever possible. It’s a taught and quite beautiful spy tale the likes of which we don’t see enough of these days that should quickly pull you in for a moving ride that won’t be forgotten anytime too soon after watching.
Overall, ‘The Courier’ is a tense, engaging and moving spy thriller that tells a true tale from the Cold War era that’s carefully constructed and complimented by stylish surroundings and powerful performances by Cumberbatch and Ninidze that help to really make this film something quite special that’s populated by characters who you truly care about throughout their tense and dangerous journey. ‘The Courier’ is highly recommended, especially for fans of classic spy thrillers and dedicated fans of talented actor Benedict Cumberbatch who definitely won’t want to overlook this powerful true life thriller. It should easily prove itself well worth a couple hours of your time and the cost of a rental for anyone that’s already even the slightest bit intrigued by the film.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Courier’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty fantastic altogether and delivers a clean, smooth and richly detailed presentation from start to finish without any unexpected problems or issues arising along the way. It holds up nicely even during the various darkly lit and heavily populated moments throughout, never causing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that never disappoints and shouldn’t elicit any complaints from fans or first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, crisp and at times quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send the musical score, along with nature content, bits of dialogue and more throughout the various speakers at every fitting opportunity, while never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a nice 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and nicely compliments the film’s tension throughout.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Courier’ includes one nice extra in the way of the Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘On The Brink: Making The Courier’ (running approximately 29 minutes in length) which explores various elements of bringing the film to life and featuring interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘The Courier’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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