Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 10, 2020)
In 2010, James Patterson and Liza Marklund published a popular novel called The Postcard Killers. In 2020, a film version dubbed The Postcard Killings materialized.
Why the change in titles? I guess the movie’s producers thought the original might imply a story in which perpetrators destroy mail.
While on their honeymoon in London, someone brutally murders some American newlyweds. The bride‘s father Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) works as a New York cop, and his grief sends him to the UK to involve himself in the investigation.
Concurrently, additional vicious killings occur across Europe, with one common denominator: the murderer sends picture postcards to seemingly random journalists. After Swedish writer Dessie Lombard (Cush Jumbo) becomes the recipient of one of these notes, she and Jacob partner to work against time to halt this reign of terror.
Given the plethora of serial killer movies across the decades, it might be too much to ask for a new entry to find much that one could call original or creative. At this point, a tight, effective tale would seem good enough.
Killings never seems good enough.
Although I can accept some derivative elements, Killings goes too far, as it feels cobbled together from every genre cliché one can muster. We find ample chunks of thrillers like Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and others, all wrapped up in one incoherent package.
At its core, we get a straightforward story here, but Postcard tells the story in such a muddled manner that little of it makes any sense. The movie comes across as a nearly random collection of plot points tossed together with no care for logic or cohesion.
In addition, we find flat, poorly drawn characters. Jacob exists as little more than a stereotypical supercop, albeit one who seems like a moron most of the time.
For a supposedly good detective, Jacob appears unable to see his hand in front of his face. In particular, he figures out the “big reveal” well after the viewer, a fact that makes him seem stupid and clueless.
As a thriller, Postcard musters virtually no tension or drama. As noted, the characters lack depth or anything to make them compelling, and the whole enterprise comes with an odd absence of urgency.
Though Postcard tries to make us believe otherwise, and it does so in absurd ways. For instance, in one scene, we find Jacob desperate to get a flight from London to Madrid.
When told no more are available, Jacob berates the airline agent, as though she could magically pull a plane out of her butt. I guess this scene intends to convey Jacob’s pain and desperation, but instead it makes him look like a buffoon.
Morgan doesn’t help via his hammy performance. Where he intends to seem distraught, he instead comes across as phony and incompetent.
That said, the greatest acting in the world wouldn’t save this disjointed mess. Silly, incomprehensible and devoid of tension, Postcard Killings flops.