Man, it always feels like I'm making a smoking-gun confession when I admit to liking a movie that others hated. Or worse, liking an actor that others hate. Kevin Costner for instance. I've heard nothing but bad things about ol' boy. Most criticism being that he's a dry actor. From WaterWorld to Wyatt Earp, Costner tends to favor the stoic role where lines are simply recited. We've seen more inflection in grade-school plays.
But I like the guy. And I liked WaterWorld. And I really liked Wyatt Earp. And I loved The Postman. Loved it.
The story is about a second Civil War in the United States, and this time you get the feeling that The Confederates won. There is no official government in place, just a guy named Bethlehem who runs the show. Bethlehem periodically shows up to small surviving towns with his expanding army, to take whatever resources he wants from these towns; including "pure bloods" for his army.
Parallel to this is a Nameless Nomad (Kevin Costner) who has stolen a uniform from the skeletal corpse of a Postal Worker and uses it as a way to con food from the same small towns visited by Bethlehem. Problem is, you can't have a United States Postal Worker without a United States Government – so the Nomad goes along with the lie that the United States has been re-united. When word of this Restored United States reaches Bethlehem, they set out to destroy this restored government – and the Nameless Nomad.
Come on...no matter how much you might not like Costner you have to admit, that's one original storyline. Even the characters defy cliche: General Bethlehem used to be a copy machine salesman before the war. The Nameless Nomad used to be a Shakespearean actor. One character goes by the name of Ford Lincoln Mercury – after the line of cars. If you find yourself mocking the mixed bag of characters, good. That's kind of what the movie wants you do. It seeks to undeify our Napoleo-moronic heroes of war. As Costner says to Bethlehem: "Wouldn't it be great if wars could be settled by the assholes who start them?"
It also seeks to make mavericks of the mundane people of our world – like postal carriers. Believe it or not you will actually see heroic clips of the infamously stoic Mr. Costner delivering the mail.