A young boy lies dormant in a hospital bed, the sterile room basted in a spectral glow, the music insistently spooky. A balding middle-aged actor stands over him... The music swells, the child jolts upright and says: ""I see dead people.""
Okay, we're lying about that last bit. But we will hazard a guess that Kevin Costner has seen The Sixth Sense. Maybe even twice. You can only pity his agent, faced with persistent calls of: ""Hey, I wanna star in a creepy-yet-moving meditative thriller. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna!""
And so, Kev alights on the woeful debut of writing team Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson (reworked by The Omen scribbler David Seltzer), and thinks: ""A ghosty story where I do anger, grief and bemused incomprehension! Neat!""
The irony is that Costner is good at all of these things. His best performances have been as a wounded everyman (The War, Bill Durham, JFK), and he even manages to wring moments of emotion out of this confused, silly supernatural drama. But as Joe Darrow - - a doctor who believes his late wife is trying to contact him through her "personal totem", the dragonfly - - he's surrounded by idiotic caricatures. There's Kathy Bates' sage lesbian (""You never saw her body and you never got closure""), Joe Morton's outrageously cruel hospital chief, and Darrow's hilariously insensitive mates (his wife drowned when her bus crashed into a river: they invite him to go white water rafting to get over it).
Tom Shadyac's direction is typically unambitious (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Patch Adams - - the guy is no M Night Shyamalan), and while he does stage a couple of effective shocks, the benevolent intentions of Joe's missus (who contacts him through the near-death experiences of terminally ill children - nice!) are never in doubt, so we never feel a moment's jeopardy.
The fuzzy, vague hope of life beyond the grave will make Dragonfly comfort-watching for soft-headed/hearted spiritual pseuds, but its `profound' message amounts to this: death is bad, belief is good. Belief in what? Well, they wouldn't like to say...