I majored in history at Princeton and tend to favor pictures that are based on true stories, or in the case of this one, incredible true stories!
"This is unexpected," a British businessman tells a man from British Intelligence and woman from the CIA, played by Rachel Brosnahan, over lunch in 1960. "I can't believe I'm actually having lunch with spies."
Benedict Cumberbatch plays a real person, the late Greville Wynne, who is recruited to serve as "The Courier" to bring back crucial intelligence from a high-level source in the government of the USSR.
The stakes have never been higher than 60 years ago just before The Cuban Missile Crisis.
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President John F. Kennedy is overheard in the film telling the American people that, "the weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us."
After one tense trip from London to Moscow that had me on the edge of my seat, the businessman goes back again and again, putting a strain on his family.
"I am asking you to stop going to Moscow," Sheila Wynne, played by Jessie Buckley, says. "I am asking you as your wife."
She thinks he's having an affair, which he is not, but it's actually a friendship that elevates this film above the typical spy thriller.
"Maybe we are only two people, but this is how things change," his Russian contact Oleg Penkovsky, played by Merab Ninidze, tells Cumberbatch's character in the course of a close relationship between two men on opposite sides of the Cold War.
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The last half hour of "The Courier" is truly harrowing as the KGB begins to figure out what the two guys are doing.
What's never less than totally absorbing is watching Cumberbatch at the top of his game so that I wasn't even aware he acting.
"He's so precise and wants to kind of experience and explore something with you," said co-star Jessie Buckley in a studio featurette for the film, and that's "all you ever really want to have on set."
If you haven't been to a movie theater in the last year, going to see this film is a great way to get back in the habit. My wife, Eileen Goudge and I enjoyed it during a recent date night, and we think you will as well.
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