Review: Art and trash trip over each other in ‘The Postcard Killings’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the movie "The Postcard Killings."
Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the movie “The Postcard Killings.”
(Damir Sagolj/RLJE Films)

James Patterson and Liza Marklund’s best-selling 2010 mystery novel “The Postcard Killers” combined Patterson’s page-turner instincts with Marklund’s moody Scandinavian spin on a serial killer thriller. The mediocre movie version is called “The Postcard Killings” — a retitling as clumsy as the film itself.

Oscar-winning “No Man’s Land” director Danis Tanović puts an art house gloss on the lurid story of a New York cop named Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who’s trying to hunt down the person or persons who killed his daughter in London. With the help of investigative journalist Dessie Leonard (Cush Jumbo) and some fellow lawmen, Jacob uncovers a pattern of macabre murders, each preceded by the arrival of a mysterious postcard.

The mystery elements of “The Postcard Killings” don’t hold much suspense. Once the hero and his allies zero in on a suspect, their primary task is to learn more about the killer’s background and decipher the clues to the next strike. Despite Tanović’s efforts to depict these crimes and their aftermath as aestheticized abstractions, there’s something depressingly mundane about the way the murders and the investigation play out.

Ever since “The Silence of the Lambs” turned an elaborately grisly serial killer plot into an award-winning mega-hit, movie theaters and TV screens alike have been filled with colorful predators and their tortured trackers, trapped in a bloody game of cat and mouse. It takes a lot to make these stories feel new. “The Postcard Killings” — awkwardly pitched between serious art and pulp trash — doesn’t do nearly enough.


'The Postcard Killings'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Glendale