Netflix UK film review: The Courier
Matthew Turner | On 22, Dec 2019
Director: Zackary Adler
Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Gary Oldman, Amit Shah, Alicia Agneson, Dermot Mulroney
Watch The Courier online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Co-written and directed by Zackary Adler (Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Story), this extremely tedious action thriller stars Olga Kurylenko as a leather-clad motorcycle courier who’s tricked into delivering a package of poison gas, intended to kill Nick Murch (Amit Shah), the star witness in the upcoming trial of international crime lord Ezekiel Mannings (Gary Oldman). When she realises she’s been framed, the courier (never named) rescues Nick and tries to protect him, but they don’t make it any further than the multi-storey car park, where they face off against Mannings’ hired goons.
Kurylenko does what she can with her uninspired role, but she’s given precious little personality and no character traits other than “can take extreme levels of violence” (she’s former special ops). She barely even has any dialogue. Support-wise, Shah is a likeable actor and has been a strong comedic presence elsewhere, but he’s under-served by the script here and even his presumed ad libs don’t raise much of a smile.
As for Oldman, he puts so little effort into his performance that it almost feels like an insult – at any moment you expect him to directly address the audience and say something like: “You’re actually watching this rubbish?” Instead, he lets his eyepatch do most of the work and spends the majority of his scenes shouting into phones, because he’s on house arrest but can apparently still freely order his minions to do some murdering and that.
A film like this stands or falls on the quality of its action sequences, but on that front, The Courier resolutely fails to deliver. The action is frequently boring and the baffling decision to spend nearly an hour of the film in a car park is frankly mind-boggling. Whoever thought an hour of Kurylenko and Shah hiding behind concrete pillars and dodging goons was going to make a fun movie needs to have a serious word with themselves.
On top of that, there’s a rather nasty undercurrent to the violence, particularly when Kurylenko’s character gets captured and savagely beaten (even though she basically shrugs it off) – a scene that’s given extra significance because it serves as a flash-forward when the film opens. And yes, despite the fact that she spends most of the film in leather motorcycle gear, the film still manages to contrive a way to get her shirt off – it’s very much that sort of movie.
The film is annoying on a number of other levels. There’s a whole mole-in-the-police-department subplot that’s completely devoid of tension, mostly because you’ll immediately guess who it is. Also, the basic plot makes very little sense – indeed, the only remotely interesting thing about The Courier is that it was one of the few films to get a theatrical release opposite the twin titans of Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker and Cats. File under “one to avoid”.
The Courier is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.