The Postman

He may ring twice, but, if I were you, I wouldn't bother opening the door. Kevin Costner, for a (refreshing?) change, appears as the virginal vestige of the all-American hero, or, as the case may be, on this occasion, an accidental hero (never to be confused with Dustin Hoffman, who was saved by having humor at his disposal in that role). As a two-bit Shakespearean traveling player who paraphrases more often than recites, a drifter rummages his way around the dried out fields of Utah (and elsewhere), anno 2013, searching for subsistence and surrounded by a devastated landscape that lacks even the slightest trace of technology. Soon, however, he will find a way to fill his stomach, his bed, and his ethical void (as well as his pouch) and metamorphose into The Postman; sort of like "Mad Max" meets the "Merry Mailman". Forgetting all his cares and woes as he progresses through life, this futuristic "traveler" is unfortunately spotted by the evil General Bethlehem (Will Patton), leader of the Holnists, to be a potential piece of strong, expendable meat for regimentation and formation among his army of warriors. (Yes, even in the future, boys will be boys.) After escaping the various ordeals suffered by some of his new found fellow victims, he winds up warming himself during a rainstorm inside a jeep alongside a quiet, accommodating skeleton with a large leather pouch. (The film might have been more interesting if it had concentrated on the skeleton.)

As it now exists, the 3 hour lllllllllllllllllllloooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggg film might have been helped on its way by some heavy duty editing, but nooooooooo, we're gonna' have to sit through a new millennium vision that seems to take longer than the new millennium. All of American history to date would take less time to tell than this cinematic mythunlogical tale; and we're not talking de Toqueville here. The simple message: though the bad guys may burn flags, the good guys will deliver the mail and re-establish communication between the now defunct United States. Profound, huh? Thanks for that, Kev. As the story trods on, The Postman (who never reveals his birth name) becomes the unaspiring hero of the land. In this paradoxical world of the future, he inspires others in the film, but is uninspiring to the movie-going public. (I wonder if he possibly envisions himself as the Ronald Reagan of the future.) His buddy and first follower appears in the person of Ford Lincoln Mercury (Larenz Tate) who, after taking the Post Office oath swears to defend the mail with his life. (He obviously didn't work for any mail service I've seen anywhere in the world.) Two villagers, Abby (Olivia Williams) and her husband, are unable to have a child and so ask for the virile Postman's special delivery package which, once the husband is killed by the evil General Bethlehem, finds the wife returning to sender. The last scene, nostalgic of Little Big Horn or Blow Your Trumpet, only manages to gain a sigh of relief from the audience because they know the end titles are finally approaching.

The mail serves as a symbol of hope and a reconnection to the past in a world that has splintered, is struggling for survival, and has become incapable of communication. Now, really! Does the word pretentious come to mind? Producer Steve Tisch (who gave us "Forrest Gump") needed twelve years to find the appropriate team of filmmakers and cast for this feature. Waste of time, Steve. The original book by David Brin was a bestseller and it only remains to say that the film must have lost something in translation. No, Kev, this is not "cool". Instead of turning your cap around, you should have turned your head around.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett