A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Postcard Killings is a 2020 book-based drama thriller in which a New York detective travels across Europe in pursuit of the serial killers who brutally murdered his daughter. While the murders aren't shown, the bodies are shown, drained of blood and posed to resemble classic works of art. Viewers see close-ups of severed lips, dangling eyeballs, an arm inserted into the victim's mouth, eyes held open with pins. The lead character is shown intensely grieving for his murdered daughter -- screaming, crying, binge drinking. There's cigarette smoking, and "f--k" is often used. Two of the characters have what's believed to be an incestuous relationship. There's talk of the child abuse two of the characters endured. The movie is based on the novel by James Patterson and Liza Marklund.
What's the story?
In THE POSTCARD KILLINGS, Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a New York detective who has just identified the body of his daughter in the morgue. She was the victim of what appears to be a serial killer or killers who are going through Europe, finding newlywed couples, killing them, then leaving them at the crime scene posed like different art masterpieces housed in the local museums. Before the murder, they always send a postcard to a local journalist. Determined to track down the person or people responsible, Kanon goes from London to Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin, and Helsinki, desperately searching for clues and patterns that might show where the next murders will happen. He's either helped or hindered by the local police of these cities, depending on their willingness to do what it takes to get results, or to go strictly by the book.
Is it any good?
This movie is essentially an "airplane read" in celluloid form. It should come as no surprise, since The Postcard Killings is based on the novel The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund. It's great for absorbing your attention for the time being, but there isn't anything particularly innovative or groundbreaking about it. The moments of New York detective Jacob Kanon (played effectively by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) grieving as he tries to make sense out of the senseless and grisly murder of his daughter reveal more than the minimum required for the audience to root for his pursuit of those responsible. However, these moments are counterbalanced by the kind of stock dialogue always spoken by stock detectives who are willing to do whatever it takes to catch the bad guys, rules and bureaucracy (European bureaucracy, at that) be damned.
Those looking for escapism through an action thriller won't be disappointed. The acting is very good, and the major plot twist should throw many for a loop, assuming they don't see it from a mile away. It's just that, even with the graphic imagery of the murder victims -- with severed body parts, drained of blood, and posed to look like art masterpieces -- there's nothing especially memorable about the movie. Nonetheless, it's a movie that will help you forget that you're stuck on a flight to, say, Orlando, surrounded by mouse-eared tourists and their shrieking kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in movies. Was the violence (or the aftermath of the violence) in The Postcard Killings too graphic, or was it necessary for the story? Why?
What would be the challenges in adapting a movie based on a novel?
How does the movie show the grieving of the parents? What would be lost if that hadn't been shown in the movie?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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