Rent The Courier (2020)

3.6 of 5 from 581 ratings
1h 48min
Rent The Courier (aka Ironbark) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
  • General info
  • Available formats
Synopsis:
In this true-life cold war spy thriller, unossuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes entangled in one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Recruited by MI6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan), 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.
Actors:
, , , , , , Emma Penzina, , , , , , Keir Hills, , , , , , Rustam Khadzhiev,
Directors:
Producers:
Adam Ackland, Rory Aitken, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh
Writers:
Tom O'Connor
Aka:
Ironbark
Studio:
Lionsgate Films
Genres:
Action & Adventure, Drama, Thrillers
Collections:
2021, CinemaParadiso.co.uk Through Time, Top 10 Barnyard Bird Films
BBFC:
Release Date:
01/11/2021
Run Time:
108 minutes
Languages:
English Audio Description, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.39:1
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • On the Brink: Making 'The Courier'
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dominic Cooke
BBFC:
Release Date:
01/11/2021
Run Time:
111 minutes
Languages:
English Audio Description Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.39:1
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • On the Brink: Making 'The Courier'
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dominic Cooke

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Reviews (11) of The Courier

An anti-hero thrown in at the deep end of the Cold War - The Courier review by Philip in Paradiso

Spoiler Alert
27/12/2021

The film tells the true story of a British businessman, Greville Wynne, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who helped MI6 gather information on the Soviet nuclear programme during the Cold War, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and the run-up to it. B Cumberbatch is the central character and is truly excellent in the part of the seemingly clueless salesman who tries to do his best, and do what is right, come what may.

Overall, the film is very good and comes across as very realistic. The way that the story is told is restrained and there are no (or very few) 'fireworks'. But it works, given the nature of the story and G Wynne's demeanour and background. In the last analysis, the movie is about the friendship that develops gradually between G Wynne and his Soviet contact, against all the odds.

This is not a spectacular film, in the sense that mainstream spy movies (starting with the James Bond films) may be. There is a certain dramatic tension that is, somehow, lacking, which is odd, given the nature of the story; this, somehow, prevents the film from being truly great. It is almost too restrained. However, I would certainly recommend it. What is fascinating is, of course, how G Wynne, the ultimate Mr Average, copes with the situation he finds himself dragged into.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Pleasantly Surprised - The Courier review by Jon

Spoiler Alert
28/12/2021

Fantastic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch in one of the most enjoyable films of the year. Not an action film in any way, nor filled with suspense, but a brilliant retelling of the story of an ordinary business man who was drawn into espionage despite his own concerns and (if the film is accurate) who made a difference in such a way that quite possibly nuclear war with the USSR was avoided. Watch more for the retelling of a story that most will not have heard of and also for a fine and powerful performance from DB. 

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Absorbing - The Courier review by HM

Spoiler Alert
04/01/2022

Based on a true story, an English salesman becames a courier for MI6, collecting information from a Soviet Officer highly placed in a Russian Government institution at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and smuggling it back to Britain. The stakes get higher as the spying deepens. No action, no car chases, just the tense grind of dangerous espionage. Personally I would rather have this slow burnig tension than the loud action nonsense of fictional movies.

Things come to a climax, largely because the Salesman and Sovier official become good friends and don't entirely observe the dispassionate approach adopted by spy organisations.

I enjoyed the experience immensly and Dominic Cumberbach bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Salesman we see at the end of the movie. Much recommended.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

The Courier (aka Ironbark) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

The Courier is one of the more tactile spy films of the 21st-century. It’s a true story of British and Russian intelligence during the most heated of times during the Cold War of the 1960s. With the Cuban Missile Crisis on the horizon, there’s a lot on the line. To place that burden on a mere businessman may feel like too much for one man. And yet he does, sacrificing more than he may realize for the sake of his country and cultural relations.

Greville Wynne, played by a mustached Benedict Cumberbatch, is the businessman in question. With a rather dull life of meetings during the day and evenings with his wife and son. But then MI6 approaches him with an important task that they delicately try to ask of him. They need Greville to merely go about his normal duties on a business trip to Russia. All he has to do is secretly obtain some top-secret photos of documents from a Russian contact. The KGB are less likely to expect some British civilians of being capable of espionage.

Greville’s contact in Russia is Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), a secret agent working within the Russian ministry. He also has a wife and child, making his connection with Greville all the easier. When Oleg ventures off to London, he visits Greville’s family and they have a profound conversation about people from different cultures can still be friends even if their politicians can’t. Indeed, Greville and Oleg start becoming close. And it could be their downfall in their secretive mission.

I dug the way Dominic Cooke directs such a picture with a firm hand and atmospheric sensations of exhilaration and anxiety. Greville’s montage of getting used to checking for bugs and suspecting everyone being an informant of the KGB is kept to brisk pacing so it seems that the businessman is so caught up in keeping his cool he doesn’t think about the possibility of being caught. And yet that fear follows him everywhere, including back at home where he finds himself exploding at his son for being forgetful and sleeping with his wife constantly, fearing it could be his last time.

Oleg is a bit more collected, realizing how deep he may be into this case that it’s impossible for him to escape. His facade is better maintained among his family but his desperation is still coursing through his veins. He’s aware that the slightest change in any of his work could be an immediate red flag that he has been found out. Something as simple as being taken off a business trip or a slightly adjusted book in his house could reveal just how much the KGB knows about his actions.

The tension mounts wonderfully throughout the film, especially for the second act’s crescendo of Greville trying to secretly escort Oleg and his family out of the country. There’s great escalation during this scene that just when we think the two may make it out of Russia without question, they’re cornered and taken away. Their punishments are harsh and sacrifices will have to be made if either of them hopes to see their families again.

The Courier doesn’t really exude any astonishing money shots or feature as many vibrant emotional monologues. It does, however, keep the story personal and relatable thanks to one of Cumberbatch’s most natural performances and the general stoic appeal of Ninidze’s portrayal of Oleg. There’s some cutting back to the CIA and the situation in Cuba for context but the majority of the focus is placed on Greville and Oleg, making their story more than just one that is marred in 1960s politics. The film does settle into the familiar swelling of music and melodrama towards the end where Cumberbatch delivers his most powerful lines of dialogue when shaved and starved within a cold Russian prison. For such a focus, the film didn’t really separate itself as much from other spy films but still presents itself as one that has a bit more faith in its story that it can trim off more of the expositional fat.

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