Quick, get the Raid!


When Kevin Costner loves, no one has ever loved so much. When he loses his love, no one has ever lost so much. And when he wants something, no one had better stand in his way because no one has ever wanted anything so much. His intensity can be painful to watch, and not in a good way. If he didn't take himself so seriously, we might be able to take him more seriously.

If you disagree with this assessment, and many will, you should run to see Dragonfly, in which Costner loves, loses, and wants as no one, not even Costner, has before.

This would-be love child of The Sixth Sense and Ghost is directed here by Tom Shadyac. As the only critic in the world who liked his last picture, Patch Adams, I've no need to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Costner plays Dr. Joe Darrow, whose wife Emily (Susanna Thompson), also a doctor, apparently died when the bus she was riding in slid down a cliff into a river while she was on a medical mercy mission to Venezuela. Her body was never found, so Joe has no sense of closure.

After six months, Joe has become the Phantom of the Hospital, driving everyone around him nuts until the administrator (Joe Morton) orders him to take time off: "You need to grieve." When he stops going in to his own job, Joe starts going in to Emily's, having promised to look in on her kids in the pediatric oncology ward.

That's where he gets the idea Emily is trying to send him a message. Young Jeffrey (Robert Bailey Jr., who gives the best performance in the movie) returns from a near-death experience to say he saw Emily "in a rainbow." Something similar happens to another boy, and they're both drawing symbols that look like dragonflies (or maybe swastikas); Joe describes one as "a crucifix made of Jell-o," Costner's one funny line.

The dragonfly was Emily's "personal totem." She had a birthmark in the shape of one and collected objects with dragonfly designs. One of these, a paperweight, figures in what looks like poltergeist activity in Joe's house.

Joe has never believed in an afterlife, so he's in an awkward position when he insists that Emily is trying to contact him from beyond the grave. He also gets into awkward legal positions, bursting into a Catholic school to consult Sister Linda Hunt and causing a disturbance at his own hospital that gets him arrested. Fortunately, he lives next door to a lawyer (Kathy Bates).

The ending of Dragonfly is supposed to be a surprise. If you would be surprised to learn that the concession stand has raised the price of popcorn you may also be surprised at how the story turns out, but don't expect a Sixth Sense kind of twist. There are about three possible endings, and this is one of them.

The island of Kauai stands in for Venezuela. Do you think someone wanted to work a surfing vacation into the budget?

The film is technically well made and doesn’t overstay its welcome, assuming it had one. But once Costner came aboard they could have shortened the title. He makes Dragonfly a drag.

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