Well Go USA // 2012 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // October 9th, 2012
The art of the character actor has usually been the ability to blend into a variety of characters, subsuming any possible star persona into the requirements of the role -- or, alternatively, in looking like a particular "type" and thus being cast in that role repeatedly. Think of the same five faces that you see showing up as military and police brass on television. Occasionally, though, a character actor will have such a larger-than-life persona that he or she will trick viewers into thinking that they'd be perfect for a starring role. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is one of those actors. He steals the show in his appearances in Supernatural, Watchmen, and even The Losers. It's no wonder that people want him to headline a picture. The only problem is that the only film I've seen him star in, The Resident was a bit of a stinker. That could have been a fluke, though. Now we have The Courier, which Morgan also produced, and it sadly confirms that the actor should probably be left to supporting roles.
The Courier (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) makes deliveries without caring to whom or what he is delivering. He's always on time and never asks any questions. Then one day a man shows up with a package that needs to be delivered to "Evil Sivle," a man who hasn't been seen in a decade. If the Courier can't get the package to Sivle in two days, his family and friends will be killed. He takes the job, and the bodies start to pile up as he uncovers Sivle and his own past.
Yes, you're absolutely correct in thinking that "courier" is a synonym for "transporter," and The Courier invites comparisons to The Transporter. Both films feature taciturn men who ask no questions delivering dubious cargo to shadowy men. Both also feature men forced into protecting and working with people after years of solo deployment. That, however, is where the similarities end. The Transporter knew from the first frame that it was a popcorn action flick and its job was to deliver consistent action with cool fights and chases. If that's your sort of thing, then The Transporter delivers. The Courier plays like someone watched The Transporter and thought, "You know what this movie needs? More plot, less action, and a twist ending!"
That's not inherently a bad idea; taking some time exploring how and why someone could become a courier has its merits. The problem with The Courier is that it relies on only the most clichéd story elements to accomplish its task. Of course, the courier has an estranged family, of course, he has a salty pal who will be threatened, and of course, he has a shadowy past. It's all very ho-hum. The ho-hum character of the story is only enhanced by the lackluster directing. Heaven knows why Hany Abu-Assad chose to make his English-language debut with this film. Nothing about his Oscar-nominated Paradise Now indicated that The Courier would be his vehicle of choice. From the opening "action" in an amusement park (featuring some of the dodgiest CGI I've seen in a while) to the numerous chases sprinkled throughout the film, nothing rises above average in the visual makeup of the film.
The so-so standard of the film is replicated with this DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is solid, but never rises above okay. Detail is good (too good for the awful opening scenes atop an amusement park ride), and black levels are consistent. Colors are muted, though that's likely intentional. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track is a bit better, offering a fine balance between dialogue and action effects. There's a bit of directionality in some of the tenser scenes as well. Extras include a 22-minute making-of featurette that offers behind the scenes footage and a small set of deleted and extended scenes, as well as the film's trailer.
Despite the fact that I can't really recommend The Courier to anyone, that's not the fault of the actors. I guess Morgan as producer was a big draw to a set of actors who know their stuff. Mark Margolis brings his usual sly gravity to the role of the Courier's old friend. Til Schweiger is menacing and charming as the person giving the Courier his task, and even Mickey Rourke's small role does the film credit. They're all eclipsed, though, by the husband and wife hit team played by Miguel Ferrer and Lili Taylor. The pair have great chemistry, and their scenes are by far the best in the film.
If you absolutely love Jeffrey Dean Morgan (and I can understand that love), then The Courier might be worth a rental. Otherwise, it's a thoroughly average B-action-thriller that only has a solid cast to recommend it.
Guilty. The Courier just doesn't deliver.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes