"Dragonfly" (IMDb listing) is a weeks-old new age sponge left out far too long. A moldy rehash of supernatural thrillers that have come before, "Dragonfly" has the notion that its only cinematic nutrition will be good intentions and obtuse motivations. I hate to break it to the people behind the camera, but "Dragonfly" won't heal the world, it will just bore it to tears.
Joe (Kevin Costner) is mourning the loss of his beloved wife Emily, who passed away in South America while on volunteer work. Joe cannot seem to get over the loss, much to the chagrin of his friends (Kathy Bates) and colleagues (Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin). Just when it seems Joe might be able to move on with his life, strange symbols start to appear all around him. It's as if Emily is trying to contact him from beyond the grave. Joe, driven by the possibility that his wife might still be out there trying to speak to him, finds himself going to the ends of the Earth trying to figure out why he's being haunted by such tormenting visions.
"Dragonfly" was directed by Tom Shadyac, noted filmmaker behind "Ace Ventura," "Liar, Liar" and "Patch Adams." Shadyac has a gift (or curse, to some) for blending incredibly false sentiment with broad Hollywood comedy. I don't even say that to knock to the guy either, as up until this point, I've really enjoyed his work. Even the loathed "Patch Adams" I found to be touching, if only because Shadyac had the audacity to have a sweet supporting character murdered in the middle of the film. But with "Dragonfly," the slightly ambitious risk-taking has abandoned Shadyac's touch, and this time there is no comedy to fall back on. This new film is deadly serious with its story of messages from beyond the grave and general spooky occurrences. "Dragonfly" is Shadyac's big, grown up picture, and it is the first film in which he completely drops the ball with.
The central flaw to "Dragonfly" is that, while it isn't exactly another pass around the "Sixth Sense" and "Ghost" maypole, it still shares many of the same paranormal/suspense traits. Traits that are carefully laid out and paid off in small, bread crumb style increments in the other films, but not "Dragonfly." The end is never quite in sight in this new film. It refuses to allow any type of clue or notion that would enable the audience to become so wrapped up in the story flow that the finale would blow minds from sea to shining sea. After an hour passed, I stopped caring about Joe's plight simply because the movie wasn't allowing any hints to why these images haunt him. This type of picture needs a script that drops crumbs along the way, so the crowd feels as if it is apart of the deduction. "Dragonfly" misfires because it wants to keep all the clues to itself.
"Dragonfly" is structured in such a way that all comes down to the final twist. And to get to this twist, there is a whole heap of drama getting in the way. The picture cannot bear the weight of all the melodrama in the pursuit of a humdinger of an ending. The result is a rather boring film. It pays off well enough, that's for sure, but the end result is not worth the time spent to get there.
I've never had any complaints about Kevin Costner before "Dragonfly," and I still stand behind his work, even in something as lackluster as this new film. Costner is in the unfortunate position of having to anchor such a carefully unresponsive picture. Without help coming from the script or Shadyac, all Costner can do is flail like a madman, hoping it all adds up in the end. It's an impassioned performance, and his best in some time. But lacking the crucial support from the filmmakers, Costner is hung out to dry in "Dragonfly."
While "Dragonfly" means well, the only way it could've been fully realized is if there were more moments of discovery instead of constant mystery.
Filmfodder Grade: D