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The Courier (aka Ironbark) | 2020 | PG-13 | – 4.5.5

content-ratingsWhy is “The Courier” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “violence, partial nudity, brief strong language, and smoking throughout.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes an implied sex scene, back nudity in prison, a reference to infidelity, several tense scenes of men organizing and undertaking acts of espionage, punishment for spying in the USSR with men tortured in prison, and at least 1 F-word and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


Based on true events: In the early 1960s, as the Cuban Missile Crisis was menacing the world, the MI-6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan) recruit an ordinary British businessman (Benedict Cumberbatch) as the main contact for a high-ranking Soviet officer (Merab Ninidze). Also with Vladimir Chuprikov, James Schofield, Fred Haig, Emma Penzina, Mariya Mironova, Anton Lesser, Angus Wright, Keir Hills and Jessie Buckley. Directed by Dominic Cooke. [Running Time: 1:51]

The Courier SEX/NUDITY 4

 – A husband and his wife kiss passionately and lie back on their bed; we then see them lying nude under covers (bare shoulders are seen) and sex is implied. A husband and his wife hug.
 A wife describes her husband as being, “So energetic in bed,” and another woman says, “Oh poor you,” sarcastically. A woman talks about another woman’s husband’s “indiscretion.” A husband tells his wife, “I swear there is no one else.”
 A man is ordered to strip in a prison and we see his bare chest, abdomen, legs to the hips and buttocks (he covers his genitals with his hands); he is also bent over a table and given a cavity search (we see someone behind him and he winces). A man stands under a shower and we see him fully nude from the back (his bare back, buttocks and legs are shown). A woman walks through an office and men stop what they are doing to stare at her as she passes. Men and women dance together at a club. Ballet dancers wear costumes that reveal cleavage, bare shoulders, backs and tights-covered legs to the hips.

The Courier VIOLENCE/GORE 5

 – People make reference to a man that we later see with bruises on his face after apparent beatings and he is shot in the head (blood splatters) in front of several other men for being a traitor to the USSR. A man stands up from his desk, holds his chest and collapses on the floor (we see him recovering in the hospital later).
 A man is taken to a prison with a bag over his head, he is told to strip (he removes his clothes, please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), his head is shaved, he has a cavity search, he is interrogated and shoved into a cell where he is fed a broth with what looks like eyeballs in it; he is forced to use a bucket as a bathroom (he reacts to the smell of the waste in the bucket a couple of times). A woman is pulled out of a van, slammed against a wall and surrounded by men before being shoved into a car and dropped at an embassy and told to leave the country. A man driving a van parks it, gets out and is chased by two other men through the streets; he speeds away in a taxi. A man and his family are held in their apartment by government officials that take the man away after he tells them that he is a traitor and betrayed the revolution; he tries to hug them, he’s forcibly prevented, and his wife and child remain crying. Police board a plane and remove a man; they take him outside and punch him in the stomach before throwing him in the back of a van. A man is shown being led back to his cell where his mattress and blanket have been removed and his waste bucket lid has been removed; he becomes angry, yells, throws the bucket and the bed frame against the door, and guards are shown beating him with nightsticks as he lies on the floor. A man is shown with bruises and cuts on his face and beatings are implied.
 A man yells as guards pull him out of an interrogation room, telling another prisoner in the room that he is responsible for stopping a nuclear war. A man photographs plans for nuclear missiles and their location. A man approaches two other men in a train station tunnel, hands them an envelope and tells them to deliver it to the American embassy (he seems nervous). We see a spy plane photographing an area where there are nuclear missiles in bunkers. A man returns to his hotel room and suspects that someone has been there and looked through his things. Two men nervously whisper in each other’s ears in a hotel room while they have a radio blaring because the room is being monitored.
 A man yells at his young son for forgetting to bring raincoats on a camping trip and calls him a derogatory name. A husband snaps at his wife when she asks him about the dangers of doing business in Moscow. A woman describes what will happen if a nuclear weapon is launched toward his country and he would not be able to get to his wife or child in time before the strike. Nikita Khrushchev speaks in front of a group and declares, “We will bury them.” A woman tells her husband that she doesn’t want him to end up in the gulag. A young girl tells her father that she got a special pin and that she is an “Octoberist.” A man says that he is thought to be stealing western technology. People discuss “first strike capability.” A man says, “They will execute me.” We hear that the Germans seal their border. A man says that foreigners are only allowed in the cities in Russia because they hide the suffering elsewhere. A man confronts a man and a woman and accuses them of letting “…the KGB murder him in cold blood.” Radio broadcasts announce what is recommended for people to do in case of a nuclear launch. A man tells another man, “Your country has left you here to die.” We read that a man was executed and buried in an unmarked grave. A man tells another man that he cannot invite him to his house and says that having foreigners into their homes (in Russia) is not done. A man’s wife is permitted to visit him in prison and he has lost a lot of weight and looks drawn; she tells him that it could be another year or two until she can get him out.
 A man vomits (we hear gagging and do not see goo).

The Courier LANGUAGE 5

 – About 1 F-word, 1 scatological term, 1 anatomical term, 2 mild obscenities, name-calling (sadist, blatant sucking up, weak, chaotic, dim, idiot, disaster, fool, stupid, ridiculous, absurd, you people, retched, animals), exclamations (oh my, how dare you, bloody), 5 religious exclamations (e.g. My God, For God’s Sake, Oh My God). | profanity glossary |

The Courier SUBSTANCE USE

 – We hear that a man was poisoned by the KGB. People drink wine with a meal, men drink beer and smoke cigarettes in a club, a man describes another man ask being someone who drinks a bit too much, men and women drink to excess and smoke in a club, a man and a woman drink at home, a man brings a bottle of liquor to a home where the woman of the house says that they didn’t drink enough the night before (jokingly), a man drinks whiskey and hands a glass to a woman in an office, and a man asks another man if he can hold his alcohol. Men smoke in many scenes throughout the movie in offices and homes as well as on the streets and hotels and in cars, a man brings Turkish cigarettes to another man and describes them as contraband.

The Courier DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – 1960s political struggles between the USSR and the US, nuclear war, MI6, CIA, KGB, treason, torture tactics, espionage, decadence, deception, suspicion, infidelity, Cuban Missile Crisis, Lubyanka prison.

The Courier MESSAGE

 – Even otherwise unassuming people can be brave when called upon to save the world.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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