): Uwe Boll
is not Satan. Nor is he Beelzebub, Scratch, the Prince of Darkness, or even Petey Wheatstraw. Boll is just a fanatic with a lunatic mission -- to bring cinematic versions of disruptive, low-rent video games (BloodRayne, House of the Dead) to movie screens and, in due course, to bargain DVD bins in Walmartopia department stores around the world. Boll's misbegotten passion can be seen in every frame of his video game aggrandizements, and like Peter Lorre in M, he can't help it.
His new film, Postal, starts off in high octane farcical mode, as two terrorists, United 93
style, have taken over the control of a jet en route to martyrdom, and are disagreeing whether they were told that 100 or 99 virgins will await them in the afterlife. Putting in a call to Osama bin Laden to find out the exact number of virgins, the boys are informed that the number of virgins has been reduced to 10 per recruit because, with all the martyrs signing up, there are not enough virgins to go around. With that, the terrorists decide to forget the whole thing and take the plane to the Bahamas. At that point, the passengers burst in and send the plane crashing. Cut to a window washer on the side of a World Trade Center tower looking over his shoulder as a plane approaches behind him and crashes into the building. Here Boll positions the Postal as a masterpiece of bad taste, sending up the post-9/11 landscape, debunking the purloining of horrific events by politicians and the media for patriotic and political chicanery. Article continues below
The anticipation continues as Postal settles in to the cheap trailer park town of Paradise where an unemployed innocent (Zack Ward
) teams up with his uncle, a phony evangelical cult leader (Dave Foley
), while the local terrorist cell prepares for its next strike by videotaping a new bin-Laden message of doom -- the fundamentalist director yells cut and schmoozes bin Laden (Larry Thomas, of Soup Nazi fame) by saying, "You hold the screen. You are star quality!" while bin Laden complains that nobody is listening anymore and stalks off to watch Oprah. Add to the mix cameos by J.K. Simmons as a street corner conspiracy theorist, Seymour Cassel
, and David Huddleston as an old man Greek chorus, plus an ending with bin Laden and George W. Bush skipping through a Dr. Strangelove apocalypse, and Postal appears to have the makings of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink comic sensibility of an old Mel Brooks movie.
But Boll has the will but not the way, falling back on a video game recreation, after which all bets are off. Soon enough, the story goes off the deep end as the evangelicals and terrorists face off at a New Germany theme park to steal a supply of valuable Krotchy Dolls (don't ask) to finance their operations and spread avian flu among the populace. Then the whole shooting match becomes, well, a shooting match. Graphic, bloody bodies fall left and right, including images of young children being shot in the chest and falling dead in a pile of carnage. A cop shoots a middle-aged Asian woman in her car for stopping at an intersection. A lady from the unemployment office waiting curbside is run down on a whim by a SUV, her body caroming from car to car like a bouncing side of beef. Quickly, the film turns nihilistic and very nasty.
This kind of shooting gallery carnage can be easier to stomach in a video game, which is interactive and where the images, no matter how realistic, are never as real as an actual human body. Here the audience is captive and trapped, sitting there staring at a screen as if held at gunpoint in a gamer's basement, forced to watch the nut with the controller play and play and play. It becomes monotonous and deadening. As does Postal.
At one particularly unpleasant moment in Postal, Verne ("Mini-Me") Troyer is thrown into a crawlspace where rabid, sex-crazed chimps proceed to gang bang the luckless celebrity. I'm a lot taller than Mr. Troyer but after sitting through Postal, I know exactly how he feels.