‘The Courier’ Director Zackary Adler on His Top Five Female Action Heroes

Get ready for full throttle thrills and intense action in Zackary Adler’s The Courier! Olga Kurylenko plays a tough motorbike courier whose delivery is interrupted when she discovers one of the packages she’s transporting is a bomb. The explosive device is set to kill the only witness able to testify in Washington DC against ruthless crime lord Ezekiel Mannings (Gary Oldman). As the British Police and FBI scramble to deal with the mess, the mysteriously well-trained and equipped courier teams up with unlikely partner Nick Murch (Amit Shah) to evade Mannings’ heavily armed goons and ensure justice is delivered. 

To celebrate the release of the white-knuckle actioner The Courier on 20 December, director Zackary Adler is taking us through his top five kick-ass female action stars. 

Photo © Signature Entertainment & Gareth Gatrell 


The Courier is a love letter to strong female action heroes and Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien is one of my favourites. She is like a normal woman who is put in an impossible situation. She is really tough and relentless and rises to the occasion. She won’t back down – it’s a triumph of the human spirit which I love. It’s one of the things that’s so brilliant about this type of film. I remember the first time I ever watched Alien, I was at the edge of my seat, I was terrified and thrilled and fascinated, and Ridley was a hero I looked up to. I had a certain aspiration for that strength and courage. I’ve always been a big fan is science-fiction, especially in films like Alien where Ridley Scott creates such an amazing world. 


I love Kill Bill, it’s a great film. When making The Courier, we did get a lot of inspiration from Uma Thurman’s character. She is cool and sexy but she has this really human, vulnerable side. She’s left for dead and abused beyond measure but she has this life force, this strength and tenacity to survive. For Olga and I, we wanted The Courier to have that. Also, a bit like John McClane in Die Hard, she’s a character that isn’t bulletproof, who gets hurt and still keeps coming. I read that Uma Thurman had said that women have come up to her and said the film had helped them in their lives whereas they were oppressed or had struggled and in the film they had found some survival energy that was helpful. I think there is something to that. A hero with that vulnerability but also that courage and tenacity, can give one hope and strength. 


Foxy Brown is from 1974 which is a while ago and there is a lot of stuff in Blaxploitation which is dated in terms of how she’s presented half naked which people might flinch at now. But in terms of Foxy Brown, she’s such a cool character. She’s avenging her murdered boyfriend, she pulls a gun out of her afro, she’s bright, she’s tough. It laid some groundwork for people of colour having that character and being shown in that strong, heroic light. 


Milla Jovovich’s character in The Fifth Element was also something that influenced me and The Courier. The Fifth Element is a sci-fi film and I think it’s a really fun, colourful, funny adventure. Obviously it’s a different genre from The Courier but Milla’s character has this violent, explosive ability to defeat her enemy but there is this childlike nature about her. I think Olga has that in The Courier. She has this incredibly skilled, violent tenacity to fight off people that are trying to kill her but she also maintains throughout the film a lightness of touch, a little bit of innocence and humour. I found it fascinating to watch Milla in The Fifth Element and also to watch Olga in The Courier. I don’t often see those dynamics in one character. 


Lady Snowblood is an interesting film. Quentin Tarantino has drawn influence from Lady Snowblood in some of his films in terms of stylistic ways and character ways. Again this is an older film from the early 1970s. Lady Snowblood is a really interesting character. She is clearly feminine and she is deadly. A bit like The Courier, she has this mysterious backstory and a tremendous sense of right and wrong. At one point in the film she kills this gangster and as he’s dying he says ‘why did you kill me?’ and she says ‘It’s revenge for all the people you made suffer’. She has this inherent sense of good and bad, which I think is interesting. It also makes me think about the notion of Lady Justice and the symbol that represents – our system of justice, law, impartiality and a national sense of what is right and wrong. In The Courier, Olga finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and she has no material reason to take this side but she does because it’s fair so she puts everything on the line. 

Signature Entertainment presents The Courier in cinemas and on Digital HD 20 December


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