Cinephile № 875 “The Courier”

Nathan Box
2 min readMar 25, 2021

Recommendation: 4/5 SHOWTIME

Plot: “Cold War spy Greville Wynne and his Russian source try to put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.” -IMDB

Review: There is no doubt in my mind that one day we will be saying, Oscar Winner, Benedict Cumberbatch. While “The Courier,” is not the vehicle for that date with destiny, it does allow the actor to stretch in new and fascinating ways.

In this film, Benedict plays Greville Wynee, a normal businessman living in Britain, attempting business in communist-held Europe. It is his unassuming and plain nature that catches the eyes of MI6 and the CIA. With very little convincing, Greville becomes a spy at the height of the Cold War.

His first task is to establish business relationships with Moscow. This leads him to a high-ranking government official, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). Oleg, for his part, believes his country is acting recklessly and is pushing the world toward war. He sees it as his patriotic duty to supply the west with information in an attempt to save humanity.

The meeting between Greville and Oleg is a meeting between east and west, but it also escalates a certain level of tension that remains throughout the rest of the film. With spies everywhere and every one an assumed officer of the KGB, we can feel the distrust and the risks these two men are taking.

The tension in this film reaches a fever pitch when it is discovered that the Soviet Union has ambitions of placing armed nuclear weapons in Cuba, 90-miles from the United States. With this information publicly known, the Soviets begin looking internally for the leak. At this point in time, getting both men out of Russia becomes paramount.

As this movie moves into its final act, we are forced to wrestle with what the KGB actually knows and the new parts both men are forced to play. It is in these emotionally charged and raw moments that Cumberbatch shines and shows new range. While the ending is a matter of history, I won’t spoil it here, because I think many of us are unaware of what transpired.

So, is “The Courier” the perfect spy movie? No, but I found myself enthralled by it and its emotionally well-constructed in its final chapters. For that, I cannot recommend it enough.

Be good to each other,


Nathan Box