How many real-life British men who played a significant role in history can Benedict Cumberbatch play? A lot, as we’re coming to see with his latest “based on a true story” film, The Courier. Cumberbatch stars in The Courier as unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne, who gets recruited by American spies to smuggle information on the KGB. Watch The Courier trailer below.

The Courier Trailer

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have released a trailer for The Courier, which was formerly titled Ironbark when it played at Sundance last year. But the new title doesn’t do the film any favors because it’s unfortunately a little generic. That casts a bland shadow over the rest of the film, which may in fact be a thrilling Cold War spy movie. It does seem to hit all those beats: the paranoia, the muted color scheme, the creeping dread. But despite an all-star cast — which in addition to Cumberbatch also includes Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, and Merab NinidzeThe Courier just feels all a little been-there-done-that.

Maybe it’s Cumberbatch’s penchant for playing important men in boilerplate biopics, but The Courier‘s trailer doesn’t spark much excitement in me. But hey, I may be wrong, as the film had a fairly decent reception at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, with /Film’s Ben Pearson giving it a positive review. There’s also the unexpected twist of Cumberbatch’s character being a normal civilian businessman who gets roped into a huge international scheme — the premise has shades of Matt Damon’s bumbling whistleblower in The Informant!, though on the more serious side. I guess it’s refreshing to see Cumberbatch play a character who’s not completely competent and smooth-talking for once?

Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach) directs The Courier, which is written by Tom O’Connor. It is executive produced by Cooke, O’Connor, Cumberbatch, Leah Clarke, Ashley Fox, Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka, and Josh Varney. Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, and Donald Sabourin are also set as producers.

Here is the synopsis for The Courier:

THE COURIER is a true-life spy thriller, the story of an unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. At the behest of the UK’s MI-6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan), he forms a covert, dangerous partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Courier opens in theaters on March 19, 2021.

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