TORONTO -> THE COURIER: 3 Â½ STARS
âThe Courier,â a new Cold War drama from Benedict Cumberbatch now on PVOD, is the mostly true story of how an unassuming British businessman helped prevent World War III.
“You have to convince them that you are an ordinary businessman,” he is told, “and nothing more than an ordinary businessman.”
Set in 1962, Cumberbatch is Greville Wynne, a button-down Briton chosen by a joint task force, CIA agent Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and Bertrand of MI6 (Anton Lesser), to go undercover and serve as a messenger between them and the Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). Wynne’s down to earth manners and the fact that he was already doing business in Eastern Europe made him a perfect undercover agent.
As presented, the work was simple. Travel to Moscow on the pretext of work, pick up a package from Penkovsky and go home. Of course, international intrigues are never so easy, especially when the information they exchange relates to preventing a nuclear confrontation.
When the Americans learn that Russia has positioned nuclear warheads on Cuba, it becomes a race to get Penkovsky to safety. Out of loyalty to his business partner-turned-friend, Wynne volunteers to take another trip to Russia.
“The Courier” is an old-fashioned spy drama that is more about relationships than James Bond antics. Loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness go hand in hand in the complicated game of making the world a safer place and it is in its portrayal of these qualities that “The Courier” shines.
Wynne has several important relationships in the film. There’s his wife, Jessie Buckley, who brings a lot to an underwritten role, and his manager Emily, but it’s with Penkovsky that he really hooks up. Confidence is formed over dinner parties and even at the ballet, but it is their common desire to avoid a war that binds them together.
Cumberbatch brings a lot to the role, allowing true feelings to escape Wynne’s stiff upper lip. It’s subtle but imposing work that directs the film beyond its grayish, icy facade to a place where the cloak and dagger story becomes driven by feelings, not plot.
Cumberbatch’s wouldn’t be as effective if it didn’t have such a strong actor playing Penkovsky. Ninidze plays the Russian like an ideologue, a man convinced that his country is playing a very dangerous game with the world. It’s a quietly powerful performance, a performance where what he doesn’t say is as important as what he says. Ninidze nails him, playing a man whose every move could have huge consequences for him and his family.
“The Courier” is a welcome addition to the Cold War genre.
THE SEVENTH DAY: 2 STARS
Father Peter (Guy Pearce) is a priest with a past in the new exorcism drama “The Seventh Day”, now on VOD.
The Rough Holy Man comes with Sonny Crockett’s thatch, a handful of cigarettes, and a muscle car. He’s a tough guy who says, âAn exorcist doesn’t hide from evil. He runs TOWARD her, feels the hurt in his bones and can smell when it’s near.
He contrasts sharply with his last protege, the priest of the novices, Father Daniel (Vadhir Derbez). The intern does not have the swagger of his mentor, and Father Peter is less than impressed by Daniel’s “grueling two weeks of exorcist preschool”.
Nevertheless, the duo form a team, exorcist buddies go in search of the evil to expel. After meeting the devil in a homeless camp, they meet Charlie (Brady Jenness), a pre-teen who murdered his family with an ax. Is he a bad boy or is he possessed by the devil?
“The Seventh Day” starts off strong with the exorcism gone awry that shaped the hardened exterior of Father Peter. âThe evil was the most powerful I have ever seen,â he said. Unfortunately after that the descent is faster than you can say “PÃ¨re Karras” three times faster. The ‘Training Day’ mix-and-match with ‘The Exorcist’ might have been a thrill, but rather falls prey to clichÃ©s borrowed from dozens of other devil films dating back to when Father Merrin cried for the first time: “The power of Christ obliges you!”
Pearce, who also co-produced, attempts to breathe life into “The Seventh Day” with a great hammy performance but his flamboyance is counterbalanced by Derbez’s flat work whose work mimics the apathetic rhythm of the film.
âThe Seventh Dayâ seeks to reinvent the exorcism film via the buddy cop genre but only succeeds in combing out the most worn-out pieces of each.
THE VIOLENT HEART: 3 STARS
It’s unclear how to classify âThe Violent Heart,â a new film on VOD starring Emmy nominee Jovan Adepo and Grace Van Patten. It is partly “Romeo and Juliet”, partly thriller and above all melodrama. Director Kerem Sanga juggles the film’s tonal changes to create a film about aftershocks from trauma.
Set in the heart of the United States, the story centers on Daniel (Jovan Adepo), 24, a mechanic from a small town who struggles to move forward with his life following the murder of his sister, which he witnessed, and a stint in prison for accidentally blinding a classmate. When 18-year-old high school student Cassie (Grace Van Patten) drops off her father’s (Lukas Haas) car at the body shop, sparks fly and romance blossoms.
Despite his parents’ disapproval, the young couple bring out the best in each other, sharing secrets as Cassie encourages Daniel to fulfill his dream of joining the Marines. Both look to the future, but soon learn tragic lessons about how the past has a bad way of creeping up from behind.
“The Violent Heart” never really takes the pulse, but is made compelling by the chemistry between the two charismatic protagonists, Adepo and Van Patten.
Adepo exposes Daniel’s deep wounds, a psychological trauma that manifests itself in outbursts of anger.
âYou’re starting to not even notice it,â he said of his deep-seated anger. âYou kind of become an angry person. Still, he’s a work in progress, with his eyes set on a brighter future. It’s an impressive internal performance.
Van Patten is more external, a naive young woman whose confidence is shaken by the secrets and echoes of the past.
Together they are convincing and overcome obstacles as a couple. But when “The Violent Heart” turns cursed lovers around at a detective story, he gets lost in the twists and turns of the plot.
The supporting cast, including Mary J. Blige as Daniel’s mom and Haas as Cassie’s dad, do what they can with signed-on roles, but they’re primarily there to provide the pieces of the puzzle that complete the game. history of the tracks.
“The Violent Heart” succumbs to melodrama at the end, but before the climax sucks the life of the story, it’s an interesting look at the legacy and how the weight of the past can slowly crush. the mind of a person.