An angry American man with a unique set of skills goes rampaging through the underbelly of Europe in search of the bastards who harmed his daughter. No, it’s not another Taken movie, but you might think so if you didn’t pay close attention. In The Postcard Killings, the daughter is murdered before the opening credits, and her father, an NYPD detective named Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), vows revenge. Any decent thriller needs a hero driven by primal forces, and it doesn’t get more primal than a grief-stricken father’s wrath. Good vs. Evil is an evergreen theme, and some of the greatest stories of all time have been motivated by vengeance. But not every story rises to the challenge of making that plot interesting or edifying, and The Postcard Killings fails to really tread new ground despite some twists and dazzling locations.

We first find Jacob Kanon grimly identifying his daughter’s mutilated body where she lies in a London morgue next to her husband, who was also murdered. Kanon, on leave to collect the bodies, guzzles whiskey in his hotel room, punches a wall and screams into a mirror, but that’s about the extent of his character development. It turns out that a previous double-murder in Madrid has tipped Kanon off that a serial killer is on the loose in the capitols of Europe. And the killer (because all serial killers are wacky performance artists?) always sends a museum postcard to a local journalist prior to committing each murder, at which point the killer drains the victims’ blood before arranging the bodies in grisly poses to match sculptures or paintings from the very museum that was on the tip-off postcard. Devious!

Kanon charges into the police stations of London, Munich and Stockholm, insisting to anyone who will listen that they’re dealing with an extremely clever serial killer. No one listens. Meanwhile, an intriguing parallel storyline follows a young pair of American newlyweds who are befriended by a shifty dude with lots of tattoos and a habit of staring creepily as he smokes a spliff. Things are not what they seem, of course, and part of the pleasure of a movie like this is wondering who is about to die, and at whose hands?

Adapted from a James Patterson novel and directed by Danis Tanovic, The Postcard Killings provides some twists and surprises, but it doesn’t give Kanon anything to do but hunt the killer. You might wonder why the local police don’t start to suspect him; after all, he turns up in all the cities where the murders happen, and has a habit of bursting into the police station, whiskey-soaked and punching walls, to demand that they give him their case files and a gun. “We don’t conduct ourselves like the American police,” a Swedish detective tells him. When he cusses at that, another Swedish cop clarifies: “Shoot first, ask questions later.”

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is too interesting an actor to drop into a one-note role like this. He lends Kanon edge and menace, and his paternal side comes out when a young journalist seems to be in danger, but the story doesn’t give Morgan enough space to take the character deeper. The twists and revelations in the third act begin to sap the tension, and you wonder whether the revenge—for Kanon and for those of us watching this movie—will even be satisfying.

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