BLU-RAY, DVD, VOD | CERT: 15 | DIRECTOR: ZACKARY ADLER | SCREENPLAY: ZACKARY ADLER, JAMES EDWARD BARKER | STARRING: OLGA KURYLENKO, GARY OLDMAN, AMIT SHAH, DERMOT MULRONEY | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The definition of ‘phoning it in’ has never been more blatantly depicted than in Zackary Adler’s colourless thriller The Courier. Apart from a scene edging toward a welcome finale – that if you don’t see coming then you’ve really not been paying attention – Dermot Mulroney’s Special Agent only has interaction via the telephone, and he looks just like a man reading his lines from cue cards, counting down the moments until he gets paid. And he isn’t the worst thing in a thriller woefully light on plot and performance.
That plot, such as it is, revolves around a motorcycle courier who inadvertently delivers a ‘murder package’ to a hotel room in which a trial witness is being held. Said witness, now on the run, is protected by the aforementioned courier – who just happens to be ex-special forces – in a locked down carpark while crime boss Gary Oldman wearily wanders his opulent New York apartment trying to look cross.
And that’s about all you need to know as that’s about all that happens.
The main problem with Adler’s script and subsequent film is that there are just too many questions unanswered; why did the courier help in the first place? Why hide in a sealable underground carpark? Why weren’t actors cast instead of anyone who simply turned up to the auditions looking menacing with a London accent? What was Gary Oldman thinking?
In an action film that propels itself along with pace and style many of these issues can be overlooked; oftentimes a good slice of hammy fun is exactly what you need. But here the action is interspersed with boredom. Initially there are overlong scenes of the courier speeding through a deserted London and latterly Oldman’s eye-patched villain listening to music with his good eye closed. Neither of which are particularly interesting.
When the action does come, and we’ll be honest here, it is impressively visceral and highlights the film’s one success: Olga Kurylenko. As the leather-clad heroine she kicks, punches, and slashes her way through the seemingly endless number of steroid fuelled cockneys sent to hurt her while still finding time to exhibit some genuine humour and warmth. She is a character you can get onside with, one you can root for, and a strong presence on screen. The problem is that every time Kurylenko is not in shot you are reminded all over again what a mess The Courier is.
This was a good idea let down by largely poor acting, a dubious script, and a straight-to-video sensibility. It might work for some but with so many films and shows fighting for attention The Courier will soon be lost down the back of the Netflix sofa.