The Courier movie review (2021)

Where to watch: Streaming on

The Courier trailer

Rating: 3/5

Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Angus Wright, Vladimir Chuprikov

Oftentimes, the contribution of less famous men and women in changing the course of history goes unreported or unrecognised. The Courier narrates one such story of the sacrifices made by two men in averting a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s.

The Courier tells the real-life story of Greville Wynne (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a British businessman, who gets roped into being a go-between a Russian mole and British and American intelligence. The story reminds one of Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies, another true story of getting a civilian to do spy work.

Since the CIA had very little presence in the USSR, they got British Mi6 to recruit Wynne to do business in Moscow. In Wynne’s words, he was only “an ordinary salesman with no connection to the government.” This put him above suspicion on business trips to the USSR. In Moscow, his contact was Oleg Penkovsky (played by Merab Ninidze) a member of the Soviet military intelligence. Penkovsky passed on tremendous amount of information to the British and the Americans, especially about the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. His information enabled Kennedy to call Krushchev’s bluff in Cuba and avoided a Third (perhaps last) World War.

Unlike a Bond spy thriller, there are no action scenes or gun fights in The Courier. But as often happens in real-life, history is made by men with a conscience who are willing to sacrifice their happiness for the greater good of mankind.