A rogue black-hat hacker has stolen bitcoin and accidentally left behind the signature digital watermark of his friend and previous partner in crime, Sam (George Blagden). This crime kicks off Jeremy Culver’s genre-confused film No Postage Necessary. It’s bad news for Sam, who’s on parole after a stint in prison for hacking. When the FBI shows up to question him he could be headed back to prison for even touching a computer or using the internet.
While Sam is not, in fact, doing any hacking, he hasn’t exactly cleaned up his act, posing as a postal worker to steal mail. Scavenging through nicked letters for cash and checks he stumbles across a message written by the beautiful Josie (Charleene Closshey) to her dead husband, a Marine killed in Afghanistan.
No one has ever felt or said such things about him, and he suddenly yearns for that. Despite having never displayed the qualities of character that engenders such regard, he decides that he would very much enjoy that validation for himself. Toward this end he continues to steal Josie’s mail, eventually meeting her and insinuating himself into her life, using his stolen personal knowledge to present himself as someone she would admire.
“Criminal creeper spies on war widow through stolen private correspondence and then gaslights her into thinking he’s a good guy.“
As Sam and Josie grow closer, she warms to him, but despite trying to better himself he gets pulled back into the world of crime by an aggressive FBI agent and his own checkered past.
Will Josie discover the truth? Will Sam become a good citizen? Will you care in the least by the 90-minute mark?
George Blagden as Sam gives a solid stand-out performance despite the weak script and lackluster “after school special” pastiche. He’s attractive and has great screen presence. His looks and voice are reminiscent of Edward Norton. He was compelling in Vikings as the priest Athelstan.
The film pitch probably sounded better over drinks in a hazy bar than it came out to be on-screen. The real-life problem is that generally, people who went to jail for something they actually did are not secretly good people nor even potentially good people. Some people are just never good. Sam is a classic borderline personality: not only fast and loose with personal boundaries, he steals and reads people’s mail. Societal mores mean nothing to him. He manufactures an infatuation with a vulnerable person who’s going through a terrible time and takes advantage of her.
Let’s rewrite the logline without the rom-com lens: Criminal creeper breaks probation to spy on war widow through her stolen private correspondence and then gaslights her into thinking he’s a good guy.
There are a lot of lovable rogues in film and sometimes that works with a power ballad and a hungry look, but presenting a low budget rehash of that trope with an inspirational message tacked on feels cheap and dirty. There’s also the matter of the flimsy characters: a magic hacker who can do anything with a computer, the probation officer with a heart of gold, the beautiful widow in mourning, her valiantly deceased hero soldier, and the vaguely unscrupulous, but definitely unlikeable FBI agent. This film should come with a soft focus blue glow around it.
In summary, a romantic comedy/hacker heist turns sticky sweet positive affirmation meme. If you like the mind-numbing inspo-influencer-marketing schmaltz that litters social media, then you’ll love this. I need to go watch Fight Club to clear my head.
No Postage Necessary (2018). Written and directed by Jeremy Culver. Starring George Blagden, Charleene Closshey, Robbie Kay.
5 out of 10