I was prepared for a night of pure dumb terrible action until I double checked the release date for The Courier, a title that is apparently overused. I had been watching a trailer for a 2019 film of the same name. This was, however, a pleasant suprise. I'm a fan of a good spy thriller and The Courier delivers a narrative that comes to life when it grounds itself in a world of believable spycraft. To my disappointment, well after it runs out of material the movie just keeps going, writing itself into a hole with no satisfying way out right up until it just ends.
Set during the cold war and starting right before the Cuban missile crisis, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a middle age out of shape businessman with a mild alcohol problem named Greville Wynne. After Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), a Russian official, reaches out to the United States to give information that he believes may prevent nuclear war, the CIA works with MI6 to recruit Wynne as a courier to work with Oleg in order to smuggle information out of the U.S.S.R.
It's a decent setup and there's some unique energy in laying the groundwork for the story, but unfortunately the heart of the story ends up being in the relationship between Wynne and Penkovsky. And it isn't bad at first, but about two-thirds of the way through the plot the spycraft is discarded entirely a whole third of the movie pushes on until everything just abruptly ends with text after the story has completely burned through its fuel and crashed into the ground.
There are some decent performances here. The transformation of Benedict Cumberbatch from overweight alcoholic to gaunt and hollowed out by his experience is clearly supposed to be the selling point, but it's just not as stark of a contrast as the exposition wants the audience to feel it is. He never feels that overweight to begin with, so when his cheekbones are poking out and his eyes are sunken in is just a little bit different from his already chisseled facial features. Marvel keeps this guy too healthy to really believe either where he starts from or ends up on Wynnes journey despite his profound stage presence.
While The Courier starts off promising, with a solid cast and a unique premise, it ultimately ends abruptly and without much substance. Too much time is wasted well after the story has run out of material with no where to go.
|Final Verdict:||Too little material for too long of a run time, more forgettable than not.|