Don’t Shoot the Messengers

Every year, movie theaters are treated to a handful of fleet-of foot geopolitical thrillers — usually period pieces (easy style points) about historical events most will want to learn more about (easy commercial points) — with starry names (usually more in front of the camera than behind) and workmanlike craftsmanship (the acting tends to trump the filmmaking).

The Courier is the latest example of this genre, which can be understood to be cinematic…couriers of history (hopefully audiences assume/know that they’re not seeing history exactly as it went down, whatever that means).

These movies don’t reinvent the wheel, but the drive coasts along nicely enough — sometimes smoothly, other times clunkily (tots a word) — and why not take a joy ride around the old block every now and then? Is there anything wrong with being artistically unremarkable?

To quote a friend: it’s a pretty good time at the cinema.

Anyone else get North by Northwest vibes here? A fish-out-of-water, Everyman-in-over-his-head stumbles and bumbles — but always suavely and intellectually — his ultimately-expert way into plots of global proportions exceedingly above his everyday pay-grade, with quips galore that express a self-awareness of the absurdity of an average Joe caught up in the highest game of life-and-death stakes, poking fun at the shenanigans while also remaining clear about the potential global ramifications. Like Cary Grant before him, Benedict Cumberbatch cuts a regal figure, which almost inherently juxtaposes the word-perfect definition of an Everyman; they’re less demographic Everymen and more whom the audience would like to see themselves as.

AKA: movie magic (similarly: apparently my grandpa considered Burt Reynolds to be a doppelgänger, an opinion shared by absolutely no one else in his life).

Oh, and if you doubt whether Cumberbatch qualifies as an Everyman in The Courier…he plays a salesman; hello Willy Loman, an archetypal Everyman!

To be clear, it’s been a flimsy concept since the dawn of time, a reflection more of the creators’ intent in how they view the character than the character actually being representative of the masses (I mean, the gender problem is right there in the moniker).

Remember my eons-ago prediction that more movies about Russia / the Soviets would be coming down the pike?

Now where are my Red Scare flicks… 

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