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The Postman (1997)

It is 2013. War has crippled the Earth. Technology has been erased. Our only hope is an unlikely hero.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 170 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


Kevin Costner stars as an accidental hero in post-apocalyptic future America. An unnamed drifter, he wanders the wilderness with his mule, performing Shakespeare in exchange for food. War has destroyed the government, the infrastructure and much of the population, leaving the survivors to band together and live hand-to-mouth as best they can. Rogue groups of armed bullies roam the land, forcibly taking what they want. One of the most powerful of these groups is led by General Bethlehem (Will Patton), an upstart megalomaniac who has ambitions to rule the country. He demands recruits from local communities to build his army, and is too powerful to be refused.

The drifter is forcibly drafted into the General's army after he is unfortunate enough to have been performing in a community when the recruiters raided it. He is not much of a fighter, but he is resourceful and escapes at the earliest opportunity. He finds an old mail van that appears to have run off the road many years ago. Inside, the drifter finds a skeleton wearing a postal uniform, which he takes to keep him warm, plus a full mailbag. By delivering the mail and claiming to represent a restored government he can gain access to the resources of suspicious communities, who simply call him the Postman, but it is not long before he starts to be touched by the hope that his messages bring. A keen young man called Ford Lincoln Mercury (Larenz Tate) asks to be part of the changes taking place, so the drifter makes him a postman too, telling him that only a postman can make another postman. But General Bethlehem is still on the loose, and he has a specific hatred of one particular Postman.

“The Postman” was a critical disaster when it was released, which is a little unfair on the film. Certainly there are plenty of things wrong with it – from some of the cheesy dialogue, to the enormous plot holes. The nationalistic patriotism in the film is laid on so thick that even some American audiences found it hard to swallow, and the film might well have been better without the final scenes of the dedication of the statue altogether. However, it is far from all bad. The story is quite unique, which makes it interesting in spite of those few occasions when it could have been told with more pace. There is also a surprising amount of humour in the film, most of which is corny but it works well.

It's Got: The wonderful Ford Lincoln Mercury character.

It Needs: More action and fewer patriotic messages.

DVD Extras A limited collection of extras but does at least include an interesting featurette. Extras: Special effects featurette, Production notes, Trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


This film’s good bits have to struggle particularly hard to outweigh the bad ones, although mostly they succeed in doing so.