Once in while a film comes along that is ambitious, thrilling and action-packed. It blows you off your feet and makes you realise that you love this kind of film, the action film with shoot outs, fighting and some kind of criminal underworld plot that loosely holds the film together as well as connects the characters that seem familiar but you don’t mind because you’re too busy being taken into a whole new world at the cinema. The Courier is not that film. It rather plays out as if it wanted to be the next blockbuster action film but it just doesn’t ever evolve, it stays within the car park of the building of which it is set and stubbornly doesn’t move.
Major crime boss, Ezekiel Mannings is finally arrested in New York and held under house arrest as the prosecution has a key witness currently under protection in London. But the night the witness is meant to testify Mannings’ people on the inside try to eliminate them. A courier who just happened to take the wrong job ends up becoming embroiled in the fight to keep the witness alive against all the hired guns Mannings’ people can find. In order to save the case against Mannings, they have to survive the night.
The concept of a mysterious courier becoming involved in a high-profile case and shoot out sounds like the perfect action crime hybrid but there are several elements holding the film back. The first being that this film is meant to take place in two different cities over one day and night. But seeing as the action taking place in each city and time zone are the polar opposite, the film quickly becomes disorganised. Mannings, accompanied by his daughter, under house arrest is not very interesting and really doesn’t need to be cut to more than a couple of times. The actual action in the car park with the courier and the witness is also not very interesting unless someone is being killed in a horrible bloody way, this says a lot about the film.
Even getting in heavyweight Gary Oldman cannot guarantee success. Oldman is a great actor but it feels as if he just needed a role to tide him over until the next best thing comes along. He barely has anything to do in the story apart from saying a snarky comment to the FBI and threaten people on the phone. He does get to wear an eye patch though and look menacing in a posh looking dressing gown.
The stand out performance and only real reason to ever watch this film is Olga Kurylenko. She is the courier and thought to be the main important character but really, she is more like Mad Max, arriving in the middle of another story, she just so happens to be there. What’s misleading is that the opening credits hint to her past of being part of black ops and a vigilante but this never followed up on. We instead learn a bit more about the witness, Nick, played by Amit Shah with genuine horror and surprise permanently fixed onto his face. It’s just a shame Shah doesn’t know how to swear, but this might be the script adding in these words unnecessarily. These two make a highly unlikely duo and as this film takes place in real-time no unrealistic bond is forged which is actually the best part of the film, aside from the moments Kurylenko becoming an action star.
Aside Kurylenko holding up the film, we are treated to the stereotypes of the crime action genre. While the courier fights all the rent-a-bad-guy extras in London and Dermot Mulroney appears in a couple of scenes for a quick paycheck, we have the delightfully deranged without reason William Moseley as the pill-popping psycho who spends most of his time staring at CCTV screens yelling into an intercom. We are so from Narnia now, aren’t we? From his performance, it would be great to see Moseley appear in another film in a very similar role, just for fun.
With a thinner than threadbare plot, questionable characters and a drone gun that shows up past the midway mark of the film, The Courier can be thankful for Kurylenko who is the standout from the film by far but Die Hard in a Car Park it is not. In a few years down the line this will be that film that will be an easy watch and be enjoyed on a late Friday night but as it lacks the cinematic edge in all areas, for now, you don’t have to rush to the cinemas to catch this.
Dir: Zackary Adler
DoP: Michel Abramowicz
Music: James Edward Barker
Country: USA, UK
Running time: 97 minutes
The Courier is out in cinemas December 20th 2019