Benedict Cumberbatch has been making a career outside of the MCU playing characters that are real life people with gigantic stories to tell. He was Stuart Couch in the Mauritanian. He was Alan Turning in The Imitation Game. He was Billy Bulger in Black Mass. Now he is Greville Wynne in The Courier.
The Courier tells the true story of a British businessman, in the heart of the Cold War, recruited by MI6 to meet with Russian informant Colonel Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) who had vital information that dealt with world safety. Taking place around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Courier highlighted the courageous actions of two men inside the former Soviet Union leading to vital intelligence coming to the West.
The movie does a fantastic job of showing the relationship between Wynne and Oleg. Among the danger and the espionage happening, these two formed a bond of friendship that is put to the test later in the movie. It shows how two people from different background and lands can put aside any issues they may have and make a connection.
Benedict Cumberbatch is tremendous here, continuing his strong run of roles. He has shown quite admirably that he is more than just Doctor Strange or Sherlock Holmes. His well-roundedness is on display once again in these true stories.
This was a tale that I had never heard about and the drama behind the Cuban Missile Crisis is always intense and suspenseful. The world was quite literally on the brink of nuclear war and the way that informs this story is well done. The Courier provides us with an old school spy thriller feel and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Something happens in the third act that I was not expecting and I found myself completely engrossed in it.
The beginning of the movie was a little slow, but it ratcheted up quickly as it progressed. There was a sub story with both men and their individual marriages. in particular, Sheila (Jessie Buckley), wife of Greville Wynne who believed he was having another affair in his constant trips to the USSR. The relationships in The Courier are truly the main attraction of the movie.
This is a strong film with a story that is both tense and exceptional that was unknown enough to make it engaging.