Part of having an intense belief in a massive conspiracy theory typically means piecing together loose threads of information and using your imagination to piece them all together. It doesn’t make sense to outsiders not privy to the various players and information, but that corkboard with yarn connecting all the dots only makes sense to the one constructing it. That’s the only explanation for the inept paranoid thriller Courier-X, the film from writer-director Thomas Gulamerian that aims to blow the lid off the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade and their role in the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. This low budget wannabe paranoid thriller spins its wheels for over two hours, featuring subplots that make no sense in service of a massive conspiracy that also makes no sense.
The most inventive aspect of Courier-X is the tagline employed in the marketing materials. “The film the CIA tried to stop,” the posters declared. It’s meant to make this completely bland and uninteresting movie somewhat controversial. It’s obvious that even the most shadowy forces of the CIA have bigger things to worry about than amateurish movies portraying the agency as irredeemably nefarious.
Courier-X revolves around a diamond smuggler, the CIA, ex-lovers, the mob, and leaders of underground forces in foreign lands. Trenlin Polenski (Bron Boier) travels the globe under various aliases. He has a drawer full of different passports and money which he uses to travel to different lands to pick up diamonds for Ivan (Ben Van Bergen) and Nathan Vogel (Udo Kier), the latter being a former agent in the East German Stassi. Meanwhile, agents at the CIA, including agents Walter Broadnax (James C. Burns) and Jack Mitchell (Richard Gleason) as well as Director James Hatch (Lee Shepherd) are trying to suppress an article by journalist Gary Webb (Jay Disney) that will document the CIA’s connection in the drug trade. For reasons that the film never makes entirely clear, the CIA goes through painstaking preparation to blow up TWA Flight 800 – something having to do with secretive mob boss Joseph Cossi (Gary Francis Hope) and his supposed connections to terrorism.
Trenlin begins taking out loans from Joseph Cossi after he learns that the elderly owner of his local pizza joint is being shook down by the mobster’s thugs. At which point, the smuggler begins entering into international business deals with the mob, including real estate developments in India. The mob eventually seeks retribution against Trenlin and kidnaps his ex-girlfriend Eva (Iva Stelmak), but that’s all resolved by the CIA when they need Trenlin’s services to secure some valuable documents. For two hours and fifteen minutes, Courier-X ping pongs between all of these disparate storylines hoping that some of that yarn on its corkboard of movie will make sense to the viewer. It never does cohere as everything seems to be obfuscated by the inept construction of its writer-director.
There’s no real visual style to Courier-X unless overwhelming incompetence counts as a visual style. This is a movie that has the look of a webseries. The film also has no intent in attempting to recreate the look of the mid-‘90s, with a lot of the technology more befitting of modern times than a time when dial-up was the main way to access the internet. The acting is wooden as is the wretched dialogue. Yet Courier-X is never bad enough to be entertaining in its incompetence, though there’s ample humor to be found in the cheap office buildings that are supposed to be the CIA Headquarters.
There’s no redeeming aspects to Courier-X. At the end of its ridiculously long convoluted plot, there’s nothing left to ask except “What in the hell was the point of that?” Say what you will about InfoWars, at least they have some production values behind their paranoid nonsense. The fatal flaw for Courier-X, aside from its inept writing, directing, and acting, is the fact that it just contains too many pointless threads that lead anywhere. You’d be better off watching Kill the Messenger if you want insight into the work of journalist Gary Webb – that film is merely okay but at least it has a beginning, middle, and end. Typically one can look a conspiracy theory and pick apart the leaps made to connect all the dots. With Courier-X the dots aren’t even connected so trying to pick apart its conspiracy is a fool’s errand. This is a movie that should’ve been heavily redacted before reaching the screen. Maybe the CIA tried to stop this movie as a public service.
An astoundingly inept wannabe conspiracy thriller, Courier-X spins its wheels for well over two hours without ever once making a compelling movie or a coherent story.