The Postman is Kevin Costner's second directorial effort, following the Oscar winning Dances With Wolves. If The Postman is any indication, Dances With Wolves might've been a fluke.
The Postman is set in the year 2013. The world has been all but destroyed by a nuclear war, which is never really made too clear, and only a handful remain. Costner plays a drifter who stumbles upon an old postal uniform one day, and decides to use it for his benefit. He wanders from colony to colony under the guise of being their postman for the "Restored United States Government." Now who can say no to that? Costner gains entry to each colony he approaches and eats a lot of their food. The plot gets complicated when a rogue band of rebels, led by Will Patton, get wind of Costner's scheme, and decide to put an end to it.
For a while, The Postman had me very entertained. It was well-directed and I found myself wanting to find out what was going to happen to these characters. That is, until Costner started pouring on the cheese by the gallon. He obviously wants this to be a patriotic movie that Americans can stand up and cheer, but he just goes way overboard.
Take, for example, the scene in which Costner's character is about to leave one of the colonies he has brought mail to. As he's on his way out, a little girl (who just happens to be Costner's real-life daughter) starts singing "America the Beautiful." I'm sure Costner envisioned that scene as coming off tearful and poignant, but instead, it just looks like a desperate attempt to win the emotions of the audience. Costner repeats this trend of cloying sentimentality throughout the movie.
Other than that, though, the film does contain some good acting. Costner himself does a pretty good job as a man who just wanted a free meal, but finds himself a hero. Olivia Williams makes her screen debut as Costner's love interest, and she really shines. Will Patton kind of goes a little overboard as the villain, but he creates a character that any audience will hate. The Postman is entertaining about 50% of the time, but the other 50% is really stupid. Perhaps if Costner hadn't felt the need to make a three hour opus, like Dances with Wolves, The Postman would have been more successful.