Movie Review: The Courier (2019)

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There are two things I learned while watching The Courier. If you're planning to assassinate the only living government witness before he anonymously testifies against a New York mobster and you want to get away with it, you're going to need a patsy. And as far as patsies go, it's never a good idea to choose someone with a background in black ops, as the villains of director Zackary Adler's new thriller discover when they send an unnamed courier played by Olga Kurylenko on an unknowingly lethal errand shortly into the movie.

Left holding the bag when the package she delivers to a witness in protective custody takes out the room, the ex Ukranian military specialist makes it her special mission to protect the witness (Amit Shah) so that he can live to testify another day.

Of course to do that, she'll have to get out of the parking garage, which is where the courier and the witness soon find themselves trapped by the villainous B-team who — not wanting to fail like their colleagues upstairs — have chained up every exit and started patrolling each level like enemy territory during wartime. Outfitted and armed to the teeth with everything from smart guns that only their trigger fingers can fire to security cameras, walkie talkies, and drones, Kurylenko has no choice but to pick them off one-by-one with whatever means she can find, whether that's through hand-to-hand or vehicular combat.

Die Hard by way of P2 except with a Jane McClane instead of John McClane in the role of our protagonist, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is sensational in this ambitious gender swapped B-movie that dares to have a woman guard a helpless dude-in-distress while flipping the script on traditional genre fare.

Maximizing its bare bones set piece as action dictates plot, although eventually The Courier's otherwise inventive fight scenes grow so repetitive that it devolves into torture porn as Adler continually ups the stakes in its final act, overall it serves as an ingenuously conceived reminder that filmmakers are limited not by budget as much as by their own imaginations.

So wholly engrossing in its one setting in fact, the film loses us whenever it ventures from London to New York for filler scenes with Gary Oldman's cartoonishly over-the-top mobster, who — conducting opera like he's back in Leon: The Professional — belongs in an entirely different movie.

Written by a veritable committee of writers (numbering four), who each seem to have a different goal or genre in mind, The Courier flirts with Jason Bourne-ish conspiracy and De Palma gangster camp in just two of its dead-end subplots. Set largely in real time, while admittedly, the film never fully comes together, there's still enough excitement throughout for us to disregard the sum and focus instead on its many electrifying parts.

Tethering it to the realm of grindhouse action whenever Adler's gritty thriller starts to stray, the fully committed Olga Kurylenko is there to deliver the film's one final lesson. Bobbing and weaving to head off danger as she looks for any opportunity to get the upper hand, the quick thinking Courier convinces us that — rather than a patsy in the middle of a conspiracy — all we really need for ninety-nine minutes is a woman in a parking garage who's ready to kick ass.

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