The Postman (1997) / Adventure-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for violence and some sexuality
Running Time: 177 min.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo
Director: Kevin Costner
Screenplay: Eric Roth, Brian Helgeland
Review published June 25, 1998
Clocking in at about three hours, comes another attempt by director Costner at an epic. After the much acclaimed success of DANCES WITH WOLVES, Costner takes the helm once again with an inspiring and moving, but seriously flawed patriotic statement. In the year 2013, the United States no longer exists after another war, leaving the entire nation in a state of anarchy. Seizing upon this lack of a formidable power comes Bethlehem, a former copier salesman who applies his talents for leadership to drudge up a band of thugs and terrorize several towns into submission of his will. They get more than what they bargained for after they kidnap Costner, who escapes their clutches only to assume the identity of a postman. One thing leads to another and soon, Costner's postman becomes a hero to the war-torn and once hopeless inhabitants of those frightened towns under Bethlehem's iron grasp.
Costner proves his directorial talent was no fluke the first time, as he hits just the right notes at the right times to make the film effective. However, try as he might, he cannot raise the level of the corny script, and also shows that needs to control himself as an editor, as three hours was one hour too long to tell this tale. Had the script been more profound and the action tightened up, Costner could have really pulled a gem out of this idea. Unfortunately, the gem loses luster every time it appears that it will finally shine. Not as bad as the critics said it was, but not as good as it tries to be; I don't know whether to call it a pleasant surprise or a disappointment.
©1998 Vince Leo