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The Courier (2020 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Courier
The Courier poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDominic Cooke
Produced by
  • Adam Ackland
  • Ben Browning
  • Ben Pugh
  • Rory Aitken
Written byTom O’Connor
Music byAbel Korzeniowski
CinematographySean Bobbitt
Edited byGareth C. Scales
Distributed by
Release date
  • 24 January 2020 (2020-01-24) (Sundance)
  • 19 March 2021 (2021-03-19) (United States)
  • 17 May 2021 (2021-05-17) (United Kingdom)
Running time
111 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Box office$15.8 million[3]

The Courier is a 2020 historical spy film directed by Dominic Cooke. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Greville Wynne, a British businessman who was recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service to deliver messages to secret agent Oleg Penkovsky (played by Merab Ninidze) in the 1960s. Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, and Angus Wright also star.

The Courier had its world premiere under its original title Ironbark at the Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2020, was released in the United States on 19 March 2021, and in the United Kingdom on 17 May 2021. The film received generally favorable reviews from critics.


The Courier tells the "true story of the British businessman who helped MI6 penetrate the Soviet nuclear programme during the Cold War. Wynne and his Soviet source, Oleg Penkovsky (codenamed Ironbark), provided crucial intelligence that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis."[4]

Wynne is approached by a spy from MI6 and a spy from the CIA and asked to pose as a business partner of Oleg Penkovsky in order to gain intelligence relating to Soviet missiles being transported to Cuba. In the end, both Wynne and Penkovsky are caught and Penkovsky admits betraying his country while insisting Wynne as a courier knows nothing of the intelligence passed on, which supports Wynne's claim of no wrongdoings. Wynne makes sure Penkovsky knows his sacrifice is worth it. Penkovsky is executed and buried in an unmarked grave. Wynne is eventually released in a prisoner exchange for a Russian spy Konon Molody.




On 1 May 2018, it was announced that FilmNation Entertainment was producing Ironbark, a film about British spy Greville Wynne from a script by Tom O’Connor. Dominic Cooke was set to direct the film and produce alongside O’Connor, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, Adam Ackland, Josh Varney, and Leah Clarke. Production companies involved with the film include SunnyMarch.[4][5][6][7]


Alongside the initial production announcement, it was confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as Greville Wynne.[4] In October 2018, it was announced that Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, Merab Ninidze, Angus Wright, and Kirill Pirogov had joined the cast of the film.[8][9]


Principal photography for the film commenced in London on 15 October 2018 and it lasted until 7 December 2018.[10][11]


Abel Korzeniowski composed the score and Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack on March 19, 2021.[12]

Track listing

Track listing and credits adapted from Soundtrack.Net.[13]

The Courier (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Spies and Typewriters"2:23
2."Iron Curtain"2:22
3."First Contact"2:01
5."Secret Meeting"2:15
7."It Has to Be You"3:06
8."Eyes of the State"2:07
10."Cuban Missiles"1:05
11."Our Last Trip to Moscow"4:02
12."I Have a Light Day"1:18
13."Trenchcoats vs. KGB"3:04
15."Cold Soup"2:11
17."When You Come Home"1:04
18."Maybe We Are Only Two People"4:40
Total length:40:47


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2020, under the title Ironbark.[14] Shortly after, Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[15] Under the new name The Courier, the film was given an original 28 August 2020 theatrical release in the United States.[16] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed to 16 October 2020.[17] It was scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 30 October 2020.[18] It was delayed again to 19 March 2021.[19]


Box office

As of June 10, 2021, The Courier has grossed $6.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $9.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $15.8 million.[3]

In its domestic opening weekend, the film grossed $1.9 million from 1,433 theaters in its opening weekend, finishing third at the box office.[20] The film made $1 million in its second weekend.[21]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Courier delivers a rousingly effective old-school spy adventure elevated by a thrilling fact-based story and Benedict Cumberbatch's nervy central performance."[22] According to Metacritic, which calculated a weighted average score of 64 out of 100 based on 33 critics, the film received "generally favorable reviews".[23] According to PostTrak, 82% of audience members gave the film a positive score, with 62% saying they would definitely recommend it.[20]

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying: "The Courier makes a smart, stylish stand for the kind of old-fashioned period spy thriller that is increasingly being turned into bingeable series for streaming services. Its modesty and carefully managed ambitions define its strong suit at a time when such films are scarcer every day."[24] Writing for Variety, Peter Debruge called the film "solid if dull-by-definition espionage story" and said: "[The Courier's] hook is that it's based on true events, and the underlying history deserves to be shared."[25]


  1. ^ "The Courier (2020)". BBFC. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Ironbark". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b "The Courier (2021)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Wiseman, Andreas (3 May 2018). "Benedict Cumberbatch To Star As Cold War Spy Greville Wynne In FilmNation Thriller 'Ironbark' — Hot Cannes Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (3 May 2018). "Benedict Cumberbatch to Play Cold War Spy in Thriller 'Ironbark'". Variety. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  6. ^ Ritman, Alex (3 May 2018). "Benedict Cumberbatch to Play Cold War Spy in FilmNation's 'Ironbark'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  7. ^ White, James (3 May 2018). "Benedict Cumberbatch Playing A Spy In Ironbark". Empire. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (8 October 2018). "'Mrs. Maisel' Star Rachel Brosnahan Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Ironbark'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  9. ^ Grater, Tom (11 October 2018). "Jessie Buckley joins Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan in 'Ironbark' (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Film and Television Industry Alliance - Production List: Ironbark". Production List. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  11. ^ Cook, Laurence (16 October 2018). "Week in Review: Sky Takes 'Bold Step' With Major U.K. Drama Investment + More Industry News". Backstage. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  12. ^ "'The Courier' Soundtrack Album Details | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  13. ^ "The Courier Soundtrack (2021)". Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  14. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (4 December 2019). "Sundance Unveils Female-Powered Lineup Featuring Taylor Swift, Gloria Steinem, Abortion Road Trip Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  15. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (27 January 2020). "Lionsgate Closing U.S. Deal On Benedict Cumberbatch Cold War Thriller 'Ironbark:' Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch's 'The Courier' Lands August Release in Theaters". The Hollywood Reporter. 6 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  17. ^ Wilmore, Allison; Ebri, Bilge (31 August 2020). "38 Movies We're Excited to See This Fall West Side Story, Dune, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in a seaside Romance. Will the movies come through?". Vulture. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  18. ^ "The Courier". Launching Films. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  19. ^ Booth, Ned (27 January 2021). "'The Courier' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch & Rachel Brosnahan Star In A Spy Thriller Coming In March". The Playlist. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  20. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (21 March 2021). "L.A. Weekend Box Office Clears $1M+; Kelly Marie Tran & Carlos Lopez Estrada Welcome 'Raya' El Capitan Fans As Pic Posts Firm No. 1 Hold – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  21. ^ Rebecca Rubin (28 March 2021). "Box Office: Bob Odenkirk's 'Nobody' Debuts to No. 1 as 'Godzilla vs. Kong' Roars Overseas". Variety. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  22. ^ "The Courier (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  23. ^ "The Courier (2021) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  24. ^ Hornaday, Ann (17 March 2021). "'The Courier' is a throwback to the kind of solid yet fun spy thriller they don't make anymore". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  25. ^ Debruge, Peter (24 January 2020). "'Ironbark': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 16 March 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 June 2021, at 11:40
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