THE POSTCARD KILLINGS (2020) was released on March 13, 2020, right at the onset of the social distancing policies here in the U.S as a result of COVID-19, and so I didn’t get to see this one at the time. It’s now available on Xfinity On Demand and other online movie services.
The main reason I wanted to see THE POSTCARD KILLINGS was because of its star, Jeffrey Dean Morgan— yep, Neegan himself from TV’s THE WALKING DEAD (2010—) who plays a New York City police detective on the trail of a serial killer in Europe.
THE POSTCARD KILLINGS opens with New York police detective Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) being shown the bodies of his daughter and her husband on slabs in a morgue, both brutally murdered, their bodies mutilated. Haunted by this reality, Kanon decides he’s staying in Europe to help solve the case, and he learns that before the murder the killer sent a postcard to a London reporter. Soon, these murders start happening in other European cities, the victims always a young married couple, and a postcard always sent first to a reporter announcing the killer’s arrival in that city. The victims’ bodies are displayed in such ways to mimic famous artworks.
Kanon travels throughout Europe hot on the killer’s trail, trying to get a step ahead of the murderer, sometimes working with local officials, sometimes not, as many of the officials don’t agree with what they see as his aggressive American methods. Kanon does befriend one of the reporters who received a postcard, Dessie Lombard (Cush Jumbo), and the two work together to uncover clues to the killer’s whereabouts and next move.
I liked THE POSTCARD KILLINGS well enough, but I didn’t love it. The number one reason it didn’t completely wow me is its story doesn’t hold up for the entire movie. The first half is very good, but there’s a twist midway through that didn’t completely work for me. I mean, it’s okay, it’s not a game changer, but the story definitely goes in a direction that is less interesting.
Hence the screenplay by Ellen Furman and Andrew Stern is not a strength.
I enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the lead role as detective Jacob Kanon, but the material here is just average, and what he’s asked to do in the role hardly means pushing the envelope. He’s a grieving father who wants to make the person who murdered his daughter pay, but don’t expect the kind of passion Liam Neeson used to bring to these kinds of roles.
Cush Jumbo is fine as reporter Dessie Lombard who helps Jacob solve the case, but making a bigger splash in a smaller role is Famke Janssen as Jacob’s ex-wife Valerie, who while at odds with Jacob, eventually is able to help with the investigation herself. Janssen, as you might remember, played Jean Grey/Phoenix in the X-MEN movies.
Joachim Krol is also memorable in a supporting role as Inspector Bublitz, one of the few European police detectives who feels empathy for Jacob and is supportive of his efforts. And Naomi Battrick is excellent as one of the characters involved in the plot twist. She’s really good.
Director Danis Tanovic avoids getting all that gruesome, even though this one is unrated. Likewise, even though the majority of the story takes place all over Europe, he doesn’t take full advantage of these European settings, so the film doesn’t have the same kind of feel you get from say a Bond or Jason Bourne movie. There are quick establishing shots and then we switch to interiors, where most of the action takes place.
THE POSTCARD KILLINGS has its moments, mostly during the first half of the movie, but its short on thrills and not really a deep enough drama to get under your skin or make much of an impact. As serial killer thrillers go, it’s pretty average.
It’s nothing to write home about.