Director: Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo & Tom Petty
“It’s getting better. Getting better all the time.”
Unfortunately for Kevin Costner, The Postman is a great film until he utters this quote.
Kevin Costner directs and stars in this adaption of David Brin’s novel The Postman (1985). Set in the United States of America 15 years after an unnamed war has ravaged the land, The Postman is a film about one man’s lie that instigates a revolution against a band of rebels.
Costner starts out as a traveller and, with the help of his mule, performs Shakespeare in exchange for food and shelter. His lifestyle is abruptly ended when he is recruited by a radical right wing group, the Holnists, and forced to serve under General Bethlehem (Will Patton). Costner escapes and stubbles across the skeleton of a postman. Ever the survivor, he proceeds to deliver the 15 year old mail claiming to be a postman (in the hope for food and shelter yet again) and discovers that the survivors believe his lies about a restored United States government. This hope leads to a revolution. Then the 2nd half of the film begins and for an hour we follow Costner discovering that a teenager (who he had deputised in the first city that he visited) has started postal routes. An hour later and we finally reach the film’s climax… which ends up in a single fist fight pitting The Postman against General Bethlehem.
Costner’s directional follow-up to double Academy Award winning Dances with Wolves (1990) has its moments of brilliance from the breathtaking wilderness visuals, the glorious battle scenes, and even the story itself.
What it lacks is editing and acting.
It seems as if Costner is unable of choosing which scenes should have made the final cut and instead decided to include everything that was filmed. From the moment that Costner utters the quote the film seems to go downhill and slow down – too much time is taken by the Winter spent in the cabin, the dialogue appears to be lazy, and even Costner can not save this film. By the end it appears as if he wants the film to be over more than the audience do. At just under 3 hours it isn’t necessarily a long film, it just seems to be a lot longer when watching. The only worthwhile incident in the 2nd half is a cameo by Tom Petty.
The stand-out performance here is delivered by Patton. His army follows his every whim and it’s easy to see why as he constantly dominates the screen. When the story leaves him and focuses on The Postal Service, all that the audience want is for Patton to come back and reclaim the film.
As a whole The Postman is a good film. It would be even better if it was shorter, the acting was better, and if Costner appeared as if he actually wanted to be in it.