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The Courier Movie Review | Prime Video

Reviewed By: Anantha Alagappan

I picked this movie because of its interesting storyline and Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead actor. Based on the life of “The spy who saved the world”, the plot revolves around two main characters, a top Soviet official who went against his own government to defuse a nuclear war and a British Salesman, “The Courier”, who was instrumental in transporting this vital information to the west on time.

The Review:

It is the year 1960. Both America and the Soviet Union have equipped themselves with heavy nuclear arsenal. The leader of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev has an ambitious plan to deploy nukes in Cuba to put the US under the radar. Khrushchev’s reckless attitude was disliked by many of his own countrymen. One top ranked official, Oleg Penkovsky, decides to take matters into his own hands. In a daring attempt, he reaches out to the CIA and MI6 saying he wants to establish peace in this world. When the CIA receives the message, they team up with MI6 and set up a channel of communication with Penkovsky through “The Courier”.

“The Courier”, is a British Salesman,  Greville Wynne, recruited by the MI6 to make contact with Penkovsky. Wynne is entrusted  to transport the classified information from Penkovsky to MI6 and CIA. With the”Big Brother” KGB watching them all the time, Penkovsky and Wynne are forced to come up with new tactics to choose their rendezvous point to exchange information. Over a period of time, the duo develop a steadfast friendship with each other and getaway with many escapades. 

But eventually, they get caught by the KGB and are imprisoned in the deep pits of Tartarus. Before succumbing to the depths of despair, will the duo successfully avert the Cuban danger  forms the crux of  this brilliant thriller.

A Scene From The Courier Movie
A Scene From The Courier Movie

The Courier: Performances, Technical and Accuracy

Benedict Cumberbatch and Merab Ninidze excel in their roles as Wynne and Penkovsky respectively. They sink deep into the skin of their characters. The screenplay is tight and the cinematography is brilliant. Moscow is a treat to watch and the film subtly gives the audience a taste of the pleasures of the Russian elite.

The only glaring flaw in the movie is the portrayal of the KGB. It is difficult to imagine the KGB being lacklustre and incapable of catching the mole in their own system for such a long time. The real story upon research  states that KGB was aware about the dealings of Penkovsky but could not expose him earlier as they did not want to compromise their own mole on the other side. They were patiently waiting for an opportunity to catch Penkovsky unaware and catch him in action. Had the movie portrayed the  KGB chase in more detail, it would have been a much better thriller to watch.

Having said that, it is true that Penkovsky did manage to keep the KGB at bay for two whole years and was able to successfully transport a lot of classified information to the west. Thanks to his efforts, the Cuba threat was subdued. 

A traitor in his own land, a Hero who saved the world. His accomplice, The Courier,  lived on to narrate the story to the rest of the world. Aptly brought to the silver screen, such stories are meant to be told. The world has to be made aware of such unsung heroes. I am glad I watched a sensible film after a long long time.


The World of Movies Rating: 08/10


Movie Title: The Courier

Directed by: Dominic Cooke

Written by:  Tom O’Connor

Main Cast of The Courier Movie: Benedict Cumberbatch as Greville Wynne, Merab Ninidze as Oleg Penkovsky, Rachel Brosnahan as Helen Talbot, Jessie Buckley as Sheila

Year of Release: 2020 (Sundance Film Festival), 2021 Commercially 

Genre: Thriller, Drama, History, Spy

Country of Origin: USA, UK

Languages: English

Running Time: 111 minutes

Production Company: 42, FilmNation Entertainment, SunnyMarch

Distributed by: Lionsgate (United Kingdom), Roadside Attractions (United States)


Image Source: Screenshots taken from the movie.

Reviewed by: Anantha Alagappan

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