Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Courier


Directed by: Hany Abu-Assad
Screenplay: Brannon Coombs & Peter Dris
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Josie Ho, Mark Margolis, Til Schweiger, Lily Taylor, Miguel Ferrer & Mickey Rourke

The Courier aint bad but it could have been better. Veering from hardboiled coolness to messy exploitation from scene to scene, the film isn’t quite the streamlined thriller it should have been but thanks to a committed performance from lead Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a couple of hard-edged action scenes and an odd-ball husband and wife assassin team (played by Lily Taylor and Miguel Ferrer) it makes for a breezy 90 minutes of entertainment. You’ve heard/seen this story before: Morgan is a man who delivers packages/money/whatever-you-want-delivered no questions asked. But instead of jetting around sunny France and Miami ala The Transporter, The Courier plies his trade in a hurricane ravaged New Orleans using his wits, his fists and with what looks like an extreme lack of sleep. Whereas The Transporter is all slick and cool, The Courier is all grit and sweat as he attempts to deliver a briefcase that threatens to unravel his life completely, sets him on a collision course with his past and sees him confronted by a very strange performance from Mickey Rourke (strange even by Mickey Rourke standards!).

While the film starts off promising (courier finishing off a previous job, time spent getting to know the characters, a couple of decent action beats), it unfortunately begins to unravel as pointless characters are introduced, the pace threatens to become a lethargic trudge and good old Mickey Rourke (or his stand in?!) is hidden in the shadows for most of his screen time ala direct-to-DVD Steven Segal. The first half of the film begins to build a hard-boiled Southern edge quite nicely but this is soon jettisoned in favour of wasted characters (Til Schweiger’s FBI agent, Josie Ho’s sort of love interest) and a plot that come the second half is all over the place with too much back-story, Rourke’s disappointing villain and a twist that really wasn’t needed. With something like 20 or so producers listed in the credits it seems like there really were too many cooks in the kitchen on this one.

Still, if you can past these negatives (oh, and some embarrassingly awful green screen work in several scenes) The Courier still dishes up enough cool action and attitude to be worth your time. The always underrated Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives it his all and is effectively tough and gruff as the hardboiled courier. The equally underrated Mark Margolis is also good as Morgan’s mentor/best mate and Taylor and Ferrer make for a great couple of bad guys: they really should have been the main antagonists. There are a couple of decent chase scenes, one rather brutal torture scene and a wicked fist fight which keep the action trundling along. Plus the flick has a cool sweaty Southern feel which helps emphasize the hardboiled nature of proceedings.

While the last third unravels into a mess and the tone becomes disjointed thanks to unnecessary characters, The Courier still delivers (sorry!) just enough pulpy action entertainment for the less critical film fan.

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