The Postcard Killings (2020)

A New York City detective goes to Europe to identify his daughter’s body and ends up involved in the investigation. As the search for the killer advances, he meets a journalist ready to help and makes peace with some of his feelings.

Written by Liza Marklund and Andrew Stern based on a book by Marklund and James Patterson, this mystery has a good backbone to work with and develops from there. The story does have a few cheesy elements and a few things that require the viewer to just ignore logic, but they are easy to work with within the context of the film. The direction by Danis Tanovic makes good work of the script and gets the story moving at a good pace. The general feeling of the film is of a drama-mystery more than a thriller, but it works.

What really makes the film work here are the performances, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the lead giving the grieving father and detective layers of emotions and the right amount of control when needed and vulnerability when needed. His performance here is strong and gives the film its tone. His work here is the focus of the film, possibly more than the story itself and it shows a range and nuances that prove why so many love his work. Working with him are Famke Janssen who gives a good performance, but is saddled with some of the aforementioned things that require to ignore some logic to get over them, causing her character to feel a little off and thus her performance as well. Playing along with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the search for answers is Cush Jumbo as journalist Dessie Leonard. She does really good work here, giving her character as much depth as she can while having a limit arc and development. The other cast members are all at the very least decent with some really good performances here and there. Overall, everyone involved in front of the camera does good work and it’s a commendable group performance.

Other than the performances, the cinematography is good, making really good use of all the locations for the film, going from England to Spain and around Europe with a few sequences in the United States. Director of Photography Salvatore Totino uses these locations to serve the story, but also to add visual appeal to the film.

Another aspect of the film, one that is on the other end of the visual spectrum are the special effects for the dead bodies left behind in the titular killings. Effects house Millennium FX and their staff did fantastic work here bringing the gruesome results of all these murders and creating a disturbing background for the story to build on. Of course, this is something horror fans will rather love and for those who prefer their films on the milder side, those corpses will be something they may shy away from. Overall, the effects really add to the story here and their use in a minimal manner helps keep their impact more powerful when they are in use.

The Postcard Killing is a decent serial killer on the loose/grieving father film that has a police procedural aspect to it and uses its international locations really well. Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives a great performance showing how one father grieves through trying to fix things then allowing himself to be vulnerable. The whole film feels more like it’s about him than about anything else. The twist in the reveal is interesting enough, but will feel unnecessary to many as it doesn’t bring all that much to the story. Of course, not being a regular reader of James Patterson and his cohort, it may be something their fans have come to expect from their work. Fan of them or not, there is plenty here to keep entertained for the entirety of the run time and the film never feels long.