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The Courier 2019 ***

At something of a low-point, I decided to play various James Bond video games, one of the best of which was Blood Stone. During the final one-man commando raid on the villain’s supposedly impregnable fortress, the bad guy has a monologue over the intercom system that goes something like ‘I don’t know why you ever thought you could beat me, Mr Bond. The odds are so impossibly stacked against you. You are a fool to ever imagine that you’d have a chance against me…’ This monologue became inadvertently amusing as Bond massacres the elite forces, blows up the compound, destroys the entire place and yet still the voice on the tannoy continues disparaging our hero ‘Why don’t you just give up, Mr Bond? I don’t know why you ever thought you could beat me, the odds are so impossibly stacked against you…’

Zackary Adler’s real-time thriller The Courier is riddled with exactly this kind of unfortunate juxtaposition of cool action and by-the-yard dialogue; ‘You’re trapped …in a meat grinder!’ a stooge salivates at our intrepid heroine. After a prescient credits sequence depicting the Statue of Liberty descending into hell, The Courier is established as the title, but also the name of the central character, played by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. She’s set up as a patsy by an elite group of terrorists who are trying to stop Nick Mursh (Amit Shah) from testifying against master criminal Ezekiel Mannings (Gary Oldman in an eye patch and quoting Joe Biden of all people). The Courier doesn’t take this lying down and rescues Mursh, only to find herself pinned down in an underground car-park. As she decimates her enemies with improbable ease, the bad guys taunt her remorselessly through the public address system, but she’s determined to save Mursh and bring Mannings to justice.

This thriller is billed as “From the producer of The Darkest Hour’ and The Courier is of interest to see exactly how Gary Oldman’s acts of career self-sabotage have reached Nicolas Cage levels within just two years of winning an Oscar. Oldman’s phoned-in performance in Hunter Killer was no fluke; on this evidence, he’ll will be doing cheap insurance adverts in a few months. Otherwise, The Courier has plenty to offer for when you want to shift your mind into neutral; Kurylenko does pretty well with her multiple fight scenes, and there’s a goofy adolescent jauntiness about this whole techno-music and motorbikes enterprise that keeps you watching.

The John Wick movies have demonstrated that genre thrillers can be elevated by careful handling; The Courier has the right cast and a reasonably novel idea, but the sheer number of clichés eventually undo it’s good intentions, in fact, it’s hard to imagine why it ever thought it had a chance against such overwhelming odds….

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