Set against a gritty London backdrop, Olga Kurylenko plays a tough motorbike courier whose work is interrupted when she discovers that one of the packages she’s transporting is a bomb. It transpires that the gas bomb she carries is set to kill Nick Murch (Amit Shah), the only witness able to testify in Washington DC against ruthless crime lord Ezekiel Manning (Gary Oldman).
As the British Police and FBI scramble to try and deal with the mess, the mysteriously well-trailed and equipped courier teams up with unlikely partner Nick to evade Manning’s heavily armed goons and make sure that justice is delivered.
The Courier is certainly a good looking film, but that’s pretty much where the recommendations end. The opening credits, all web pages, redacted documents, news and war footage with lashing of intrigue, wouldn’t look out of place on a James Bond or Mission: Impossible film. There’s some great location camera work, some beautifully executed shots featuring Gary Oldman’s character and those close to him and an attempt to make everything else more interesting and engaging than it actually is.
Gary Oldman is the big draw for this film, though his screen time is rather limited. It’s up to the titular character, played by Olga Kurylenko, to do the heavy lifting that this action yarn demands as we skip from the UK to the US to establish the importance of criminal mastermind Ezekiel Manning, driven home with ominous dialogues, a handful of flashbacks and plenty of exposition. The Courier, for that, is how we know her, is confined to the UK, spending a lot of time hiding from bad guys in a locked-down underground car park whilst Agent Bryant (Moseley) tries to manipulate things as he works for two paymasters.
Adler’s script isn’t groundbreaking when it comes to the genre, managing to successfully tread the path of “we’ve seen this all before” mundanity and being absent of tension, intrigue and anything else that a viewer may expect. Emotion is replaced by saying lines loudly or quietly, sometimes fighting with the volume of the soundtrack that signposts what’s about to happen (or not, as the case may be) and the dialogue itself leaves a lot to be desired.
The central idea of the film – a courier who finds herself carrying a bomb whilst pursued by the police and using her convenient past – is too ridiculous, to begin with. It gets more ridiculous as we discover more and more about the courier of the title, who is some type of superwoman amongst delivery drivers The tertiary characters have the same lack of credibility with lashings of unoriginality – spoilt daughter of the crimelord, alpha-male field agents, slimy lawyers and a snivelling witness who’s scared of his own shadow amongst them.
As Kurylenko, Mulroney and Oldman, all accomplished actors, and Moseley, a capable actor, navigate the disappointing script, we’re treated more than adequate camera work creating interesting shots of scenery interrupted by turgid performances that try to eke out a modicum of respectability from an amateur script that fails to deliver on the high octane premise that the film would suggest it has.
The Courier takes itself far too seriously for its ludicrous premise, which is a shame as the central performances are fine and Amit Shah manages to deliver a performance on the right side of pantomime as the nervous witness. It’s less Jason Statham in The Mechanic and more Danny Dyer in any number of his straight-to-video explorations of the action genre.
If you’re after a film where a lot of nothing happens in an underground car park for far too much of the film, then The Courier is for you. It’s possible that viewers may find one or two good things in this film, but that’s still not enough to recommend it.
Overacted, underwhelming and a slog to get through, there are better films in the genre than The Courier, even if they don’t star Gary Oldman and Olga Kurylenko.
Dir: Zackary Adler
Scr: Zackary Adler, Andrew Prendergast,
Cast: Gary Oldman, Olga Kurylenko, William Moseley, Dermot Mulroney, Amit Shah
Prd: James Edward Barker
DOP: Michel Abramowicz
Country: United Kingdom
Runtime: 99 mins
Signature Entertainment presents The Courier on Digital HD 27 now and DVD & Blu-ray 3 February