The Courier

The Courier ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Dominic Cooke. Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Vladimir ChuprikovMerab NinidzeJames Schofield

I have to confess, I started watching this with zero expectations: it seemed the most generic title ever (type “the courier” on imdb and you’ll get over 40 other films 😂 For some reason it is called Ironbark in several other countries though in Italy it got then changed again into “L’ombra delle spie”).

From the plot it sounded like yet another film about Russian spies and how close we got to war during the Cuban missile crisis. And it is indeed all that, but somehow by the end of it I found myself more and more gripped by the story (particularly in the second half which quite tense) and I ended up enjoying it a lot more that I thought I would.

Obviously if you’ve seen the astonishing (and highly recommend) TV series “The Americans” this one feels a bit like a light version of it, set in the 60s. How many other films have we seen with spies hiding their secret identities to their wives, sneaky exchanges at night, scary looking Russians threatening the Americans and so on? Everything has been done and seen before and even though this is a true story, it seems to go through pretty much every cliche in the book.

And yet despite all that, also thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch who turns in a very good performance (especially in the latter part where he literally transforms himself), the film is very very watchable and never once I checked my watch.Equally good is Merab Ninidze who plays the Russian counterpart. In fact the film is equally interested in the Russian spy and the American. Alas, it never goes quite deep enough into any of that, preferring too keep things moving and “entertaining”: arguably it does do a decent job with that, but it’s al just surface. The film cannot quite give this important story the weight it deserves, nor can it make it feel relevant to today, especially given the ongoing relationship with Russia.

A slightly wasted opportunity.

The film is schedule to come out in most countries this February.

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