I love a good spy thriller and The Courier doesn’t disappoint, especially on the big screen (yes, we’re back in the cinema again!). Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a international salesman who comes onto the radar of the CIA, and ultimately MI6, when the former gets intelligence that there’s a senior Soviet official who wishes to pass on information to the west, as he had become disillusioned with Khrushchev.
Enter Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), who becomes an invaluable informant. For this is 1960, the beginning of the JFK era and the precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Under cover of trade missions to and from Moscow, the two men develop a close bond. The drama builds slowly in Dominic Cooke’s sombre palette, but I found this all the more nail-biting. I did not know this is based on a true story, and I urge you not to look it up before you go, otherwise the suspense will be muted.
There are good support performances from Jessie Buckley as Wynne’s long-suffering wife, the ubiquitous Anton Lesser as MI6 chief, Angus Wright as his sidekick, and a strange appearance by Mrs Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) as the CIA agent (see photo above).