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The Courier

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
The Courier Movie Poster Image
Tense action with strong female lead and brutal violence.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 99 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include bravery, compassion, integrity. Courage is displayed by standing up to powerful forces. Putting others first and protecting the lives of innocents are strong messages. But many characters are motivated by money, power, fear.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The courier is braver, more capable than most of the male characters -- challenging traditional gender stereotypes in action movies. She also has a strong moral core. Nick demonstrates heroism by sacrificing his safety to do the right thing. Some police and FBI personnel lack integrity and work alongside the criminals, who are stereotypically muscular, aggressive.

Violence

Gun violence throughout. Many people shot dead. Blood spatters/severe bleeding from bullet wounds. Hand-to-hand combat including punching, kicking, hair pulling, eye gouging, strangling. Cuts and bullet wounds to the face and body. Explosions. Character set on fire. Slashing and stabbing with knives, other sharp objects. A roomful of people die by cyanide poisoning. Character pushed down stairs. People are hit by cars, thrown from motorbikes. Gory shots of heads split open and caved in. Scenes of torture. Newspaper headlines include rape, terrorism, drug trafficking. Flashback to a violent war scene.

Sex

Character seen in bra as she removes a bulletproof vest. Character momentarily has hands on a fully clothed woman's chest -- for comedic effect. Character kissed on head while restrained. Flirting.

Language

Strong language throughout, with continual use of "f--k," "f--king," and "s--t," plus a sprinkling of "motherf----r," "bitch," "goddamn," and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Spirits drunk at home. Bottle of champagne is opened but not drunk. Character takes unnamed pills when becoming aggravated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Courier is a violent action movie set in London's criminal underworld; it stars Olga Kurylenko and Gary Oldman. The movie becomes increasingly brutal, with many deaths and gory, bloody scenes -- including cuts, bullet wounds, and torture. The main character is repeatedly beaten, shot, and injured, though she causes more damage to others. There's a flashback to a war scene with explosions and snipers. Strong language is used throughout, including "s--t" and variants of "f--k." Newspaper headlines include topics such as rape, drug trafficking, and terrorism. There's a bit of drinking, a character is shown in a bra, and a joke involves someone putting their hands on a woman's chest. Criminal goons are stereotypically muscular and rough. The integrity of the police and FBI, and some authority figures, is questioned, as they're infiltrated by and paid by a crime lord. 

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What's the story?

In THE COURIER, a female courier (Olga Kurylenko) takes on a mission to deliver a mysterious package to a heavily guarded location. But when it's revealed that the package is a cyanide bomb intended to kill Nick Murch (Amit Shah), a witness testifying against crime lord Ezekiel Mannings (Gary Oldman), the courier manages to escape -- with the witness. The two end up trapped in an underground parking lot full of armed goons who've been sent to finish the job. The criminals have an hour to find and kill them before police backup arrives. As the clock counts down, the courier must use all her power to evade and outwit their attackers before she and Nick are killed.

Is it any good?

Though the plot is quite derivative, positioning a woman as the hero/main character offers an interesting slant to this action-thriller. Kurylenko's courier, whose name is never revealed, is a strong, well-crafted lead role that has enough depth and likability to have audiences rooting for her. The fight scenes are well choreographed, and the parking lot setting is both suitably foreboding and claustrophobic.

The final hour unfolds in real time, with the action taking place as the clock ticks down, which adds an extra layer of tension. Occasional humor lightens the tone, although many jokes fall flat. But Oldman brings lots of fun to his role as the eccentric crime lord. Some parts are a little far-fetched, and the language and violence are stronger than your average action flick, but The Courier is ultimately an entertaining movie for families with older teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The Courier. Would the movie be as tense if it were less violent and gory? Is it more uncomfortable when the violence is aimed at women?

  • How are women portrayed in this movie? Is it different from the average action-thriller? Are they presented as equal to men? How does that affect the way you feel about their characters?

  • What are the courier's motivations in the movie? Does the character always make the right decisions?

  • Does the movie have a lesson? If so, what do you think it is, and can you think of any other films that have dealt with similar themes?

  • The courier shows many character strengths, including compassion, courage, and integrity. Can you give examples of these from the movie? Why are these good character traits to have?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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