Courtesy of RLJE Films
“The Postcard Killings” serves as another keen example of a film adaptation that only works or reads well on the page. Based on the novel by the prolific James Patterson, “Killings” gives away its central twist about 45 minutes into the picture, thus taking all the wind out of its sails for the last hour, whereas on the page, I’m sure there’s more depth and enough narrative to hide the big reveal in plain sight. But for anyone whose watched a thriller about a serial killer murdering their victims and presenting them in brutal and grotesque portraits (Hannibal Lector anyone?) – “The Postcard Killings” offers no surprises to the casual moviegoer. Hell, even genre enthusiasts will probably find themselves board out of their minds.
I feel bad for Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the cliché, hardened detective role, who comes with some baggage (as is mandatory in Patterson novels). As New York detective Jason Kanon, Morgan tries to tow the line between emotional frailty (following the murder of his daughter and son-in-law) and gritty bad cop (trying to track down the killer on a cross-country journey that leads to Madrid and Stockholm). Kanon trots the globe with some of Europe’s finest law enforcement with director Danis Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”) struggling to keep the viewer interested in the action, and instead seems focused on the ways American and European authorities handle their cases. Sadly, for Morgan, it leaves little wiggle room to try and conjure real emotions: teetering into overacting and the obvious satisfaction he’s getting from cashing an easy paycheck between seasons of “The Walking Dead.”
Along the way, Jason meets up with a Scandinavian journalist named Dessie (Cush Jumbo) and – as the title suggests – postcards are sent to her at random with odd quotes about the killings and strange metaphors threatening to wreak more havoc. You’re honestly better off turning on “Zodiac” and seeing the authenticity of tracking down suspects that involves intellect and not cheap haunches. There’s also a subplot tossed in about Dessie profiling Jason for an article that serves zero purpose, and the entire existence of Jason’s distressed wife (played by Famke Jannsen) is laughable at best, especially as she launches her own investigation during the third act which is even more preposterous and head-scratching once its findings are revealed.
What’s worse is “The Postcard Killings” has the courage to set itself up for another installment as if Jason Kanon will become a household name. Even in the pathos of grungy B-movie trash, “The Postcard Killings” doesn’t even stack up, it’s merely a lazy attempt at cashing in on Patterson’s brand.
Return to sender please.
THE POSTCARD KILLINGS opens at Emagine Canton starting Friday March 13th and will be streaming on demand the same day.