Kevin Costner’s film career has been on life support for the past decade. It is fitting then that Costner plays an emergency room doctor in Dragonfly, his latest attempt at resuscitating his once brilliant image in the film world.
Costner’s character, Dr. Joe Darrow, embarks on a quest to find his wife, Emily, a Red Cross pediatrician who goes missing in the Venezuelan jungle and is presumed dead by everyone but Joe. A series of strange circumstances unfold, leading Joe to believe Emily is trying to communicate with him from “the great beyond,” while Joe’s friends remain skeptical.
Though not as bad as Waterworld (1995) and The Postman (1997), Dragonfly will not return Costner to the lofty perch he occupied with such hits as No Way Out (1987) and Bull Durham (1988). Dragonfly tries to borrow from the supernatural/suspense genre, a la The Sixth Sense (1999) and Seven (1996), but the movie – and Costner – fail to inspire or scare, and the end result is mediocre.
As the point man of the movie, Costner is unconvincing as a grieving husband and emergency room surgeon. His demeanor is more bewildered and hollow than genuinely melancholy, though Costner fans may attribute that to his strong, silent screen persona.
Joe is surrounded by a hodgepodge of supporting characters, including an uptight hospital administrator played by Joe Morton and Miriam, Joe’s pragmatic neighbor played by Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Although the supporting cast is high in quality, their characters are not highly developed and their contributions to the film are minimal at best.
When these characters are together with Joe, the dialogue seems forced and amateurish. Some attempts at humor by using silly coincidences are unsuccessful, i.e. Joe expresses his unbelief in the afterlife as a priest walks into the room.
One of the high points of the film is the performances by the young cancer patients who Joe believes carry messages from Emily. Sadly, their cameos are too brief and buried in the mire of iffy dialogue and an incoherent plot.
An hour in, Dragonfly slows to a pedestrian pace, and Costner’s previous hits become a distant memory. But a pleasant – and pleasantly unpredictable – ending brings some degree of respectability to an otherwise lackluster endeavor. Unfortunately, that measure of redemption is not enough to rescue the film.For those waiting for Costner to revive his good-guy roles of yesteryear, his latest attempt misses the mark.
But don’t declare Costner dead yet. His career might still have a satisfying surprise ending, just like Dragonfly.
- Khari Williams is a senior majoring in journalism and The Oracle sports editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org