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Cold War spy Greville Wynne and his Russian source try to put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Dominic Cooke


Tom O'Connor
32 ( 24)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Vladimir Chuprikov Vladimir Chuprikov ... Nikita Khrushchev
Merab Ninidze ... Oleg Penkovsky
James Schofield ... Cox
Fred Haig Fred Haig ... Lee
Emma Penzina Emma Penzina ... Nina
Mariya Mironova Mariya Mironova ... Vera (as Maria Mironova)
Rachel Brosnahan ... Emily Donovan
Anton Lesser ... Bertrand
Angus Wright ... Dickie Franks
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Greville Wynne
David Bark-Jones David Bark-Jones ... Golf Exec (as David Bark Jones)
Miles Richardson ... Golf Exec
Keir Hills ... Andrew Wynne
Jessie Buckley ... Sheila
Zeljko Ivanek ... CIA Boss


In the shadow of the Cold War a letter from Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) an agency of the Soviet Union received by M16 stating the concern of Penkovsky about world safety and his anxiety about a nuclear war, So Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) a CIA Agent reached out to MI6 Agent Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) , who recruited British salesman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) to be their spy. Written by Saif Alaa

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, partial nudity, brief strong language, and smoking throughout | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


In this film, Benedict Cumberbatch, plays the role of Greville Wynne, a real life "Courier" of coded messages between the USSR and the MI6 & CIA. These messages are sometimes encrypted and as one such scene shows are later decrypted by a cipher device. The device used in this film is very similar to that of the "Enigma machine". The original "Enigma" cipher is the subject of the film, The Imitation Game (2014), in which the real life main protagonist, Alan Turing, is also played by Benedict Cumberbatch. See more »


The black cabs seen in the London street scenes hail from later than the early 1960s when the movie is supposed to be taking place. They have the larger tail lights and are missing the bunny ears high mounted light units sported by these cabs from this period. See more »


Oleg Penkovsky: Greville, we are only two people. But this is how things change.
See more »


References Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) See more »


Talk of the Devil
Written and Performed by Anna Morgan, James Morgan and Juliette Pochin
Published by Faber Music
Licensed courtesy of Morgan Pochin Music Productions
See more »

User Reviews

Cumberbatch Moves The Bar Higher
28 April 2021 | by Instant_PalmerSee all my reviews

Benedict Cumberbatch's best performance to date, which makes this is one of the best-ever acting performances. His physical transformation in the film is startling, and testimony to his commitment to his craft.

This role should garner award nominations across the spectrum of such ceremonies for Benedict, and if he does not win an Oscar, it may be the last time I watch the Academy Awards.

The Courier is one of the finest espionage films ever made. No spy film is better at emotionally connecting the viewer with the lead character.

The Director maintains a refreshingly low-key atmosphere in scenes, befitting the "trade-craft" of espionage that thrives on innocuous and concealing behavior (rather than the overly dramatic big moments too often leaned upon in blockbuster spy films). None of that nonsense would actually occur as spies would bring too much attention to themselves - a sure way of having a short career and brief lifespan.

This is a spotlight film role carried by Benedict, but a film of this immense achievement does not occur without similarly great performances by the supporting cast.

Merab Ninidze hits one over the Berlin Wall and deserves recognition for his remarkable supporting role performance.

Rachel Brosnahan was spot-on as well, and is clearly on a roll after her deserved critical praise for 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'.

Tom O'Conner's screenplay is brilliant as is Dominic Cooke's directing, and Gareth Scales' editing which somehow brings this fascinating true story to film in under two hours.

The Courier has me once again ('Spotlight' being the first in 2015) breaking my long standing rule of not putting a film on the Top 100 All Time Greatest list within a year of its release.

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Release Date:

19 March 2021 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ironbark See more »

Filming Locations:

Prague, Czech Republic See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,885,829, 21 March 2021

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




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