Courier Review: Over the years we have been hearing “country comes first” or “nothing comes before country”. It doesn’t matter if you have to give your life for the country. What is never discussed in all this is that the nature of a country is determined by the citizens or people who live there. If there are no people, then what is the use of the borders of the country? The country is not an enclosed land area. Country is a concept. This thinking is because of the people living in the country, so humanity should be bigger, not the country. This message is repeated in the American film “The Courier” when it seems that everything is being done to save the country.
The methods of espionage remain almost the same all over the world. Now with the help of technology one can tap or track email or WhatsApp or phone, but the most important of these is “human” i.e. human intelligence. In this, humans are more trusted than technology and an important reason for this is that only humans are able to understand the meaning behind things. In the 1960s, the war between Russia and America reached its peak. Intelligence agencies used money or some form of inducement to find out information about the policies of the enemy country’s government. Sometimes a minister’s personal staff or secretaries are forced into espionage by luring them with money or enticing them with beautiful girls. The same method was used for army or military officers. Against Russia, both America and England tried their best to use this method, but due to Russia’s strict administrative policies and the patriotism of officials, they did not achieve much success.
Russian Emperor Nikita Khrushchev advocated the use of his country’s nuclear power against America. Oleg Penkovsky, a senior officer in Russia’s Soviet Military Intelligence Service (GRU), found Khrushchev’s use of nuclear weapons in this manner to drive humanity to destruction. He gave this information in a letter to the US Embassy in Moscow. England’s spy agency MI6 and America’s CIA team up to find Greville Vin, a shrewd businessman, to get to Oleg. Greville was a British citizen and traveled frequently to trade in Eastern Europe. Greville realized that if he did not help with espionage, Russia might attack England and America with its nuclear weapons. On the pretext of expanding his business, he arrived in Russia and met Oleg.
The two develop mutual trust and reconciliation, and Oleg informs her of Russia’s nuclear bomb intelligence plans. Because of their mutual understanding, America and England succeeded in avoiding a very dangerous nuclear war. Oleg and Greville were arrested and sentenced in Russia. A few years later, Greville was released in exchange for the Russian spy Konan Molody, but by then Oleg had been executed by the Russian government for treason.
The writer of the film The Courier is Tom O’Connor who adapted this true story from the 60s into a film script. Not only are the circumstances of the period beautifully described, the habits of each character are also given the color of that decade. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays Greville Vin. Benedict is a very talented artist and has already garnered millions of fans for himself in the BBC television drama “Sherlock”. Greville’s role is a testament to his versatile personality. Like a cunning salesman, he makes deals by feeding people wine. When he is asked to spy, he has a look of surprise and bewilderment on his face that few actors can convey.
Despite being tortured in a Russian prison, he sticks to his word and shows his strength of character. Russian actor Merab does a great job in the difficult role of Oleg Penkovsky. Merab is a very experienced artist but to survive in front of a man like Benedict is a big deal. Merab has previously worked in many popular television and web series. The rest of the cast also did a good job, especially Jessie Buckley as Greville’s wife. Seeing the changing habits of Greville, who often visits Russia, she thinks that her husband is having an affair, but when she learns that her husband is spying for the country, she has a look of pride on her face. That looks great.
Film director Dominic Cooke is a well-known name in English theatre. The Courier is his second film, while he has directed at least three dozen plays for the Royal Court and Shakespeare Theatre. Dialogues between characters are their specialty and this thing is visible in this film as well. The film’s music is composed by Abel Korzeniowski and is mesmerizing. With the right balance of music, every scene has its impact. 14 of his tunes were used for this film and if you listen to this album, you cannot help but appreciate it.
The Courier is a great movie. There is no sentimentality, no free patriotic slogans and both the lead actors start with selfishness but end up giving priority to humanity. I want today’s rulers to understand that for patriotism there is a need for a country and if a country is made of people then people are needed first.
Tags: movie review, Hollywood, Film analysis
First Published: August 29, 2021, 15:37 IST