Soviet Russia in 1960 was a paranoid nuclear state but one that had recognized a need for money coming in from the non-communist world. That’s why English businessman Greville Wynne was slated to go there. Wynne presented the perfect opportunity for the CIA and MI6 to put a seemingly innocent man like Wynne behind the Iron Curtain as their eyes and ears.
That’s the basic true story behind The Courier, an upcoming Cold War thriller featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Wynne, who was, as the trailer makes evident, recruited to become a reluctant and improbable spy.
If you grew up during the Cold War, the gray reality of international relationships in 1960 won’t be a surprise, but to many, the movie clearly will be a look at a period of history that seems at once relatable, given alleged Russian efforts today to sabotage democratic political processes around the world, and as distant as 1860.
Here’s the synopsis for The Courier, which was originally titled Ironbank upon its premiere in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival:
The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Courier also stars Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, Merab Ninidze, Angus Wright, and Kirill Pirogov. It features spy gadgets and ruses but this isn’t James Bond with a sports car hiding machine guns behind the headlights–this is what it was really like to spy over 60 years ago. It was gritty, dirty, dangerous, and sometimes done by the most unexpected people, like Wynne, who was told in no uncertain terms regarding his Russian journey, “Everyone you meet, assume they’re KGB.”
Things can always change thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but right now The Courier is set to hit theaters on March 19, 2021.