The Bone Collector
"The Bone Collector" is a stylishly filmed thriller in the vein of "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs." It features superb performances by Denzel Washington as a legendary forensic detective left paralyzed by a tragic on-the-job accident and Angelina Jolie as the reluctant and inexperienced beat cop he recruits to be his eyes and ears as they close in on a horrific serial killer. The intense chemistry between the two stars and their deft interpretation of screenwriter Jeremy Iacone's serviceable script keep the movie moving at lightning speed, even though Washington is effectively confined by his role to reaction shots and voiceovers. Helmed by director Philip Noyce ( "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger") with a sure eye for pacing and an overwhelming instinct for mass appeal, the movie delivers all the thrills it promises, though very few surprises.
As the movie opens, Washington's character, Lincoln Rhyme, has come face-to-face with his worst fears. He is trapped in his bed, immobile from the neck down except for the ability to move one finger and breathe, and subject to frequent and life-threatening seizures. Terrified by the very real possibility that one day not very far away these attacks will leave him brain dead, he has made arrangements for a doctor-assisted suicide. But his decision to check out is put on hold when a brutal murder forces the NYPD to seek his assistance. Though he initially refuses, the crime scene intrigues him, as does Amelia Donaghy, the young beat cop who found the first victim, a millionaire philanthropist and political activist. The cop's resourcefulness and bravery kept the crime scene intact and provided significant links to help find the killer.
Angelina Jolie's performance as Amelia Donaghy is stellar. The audience can see every emotion she feels shift across her face as she's pushed to her limits by Lincoln Rhyme's demands and her own shadowed past. Every frame of the film provides new challenges to her character, forcing her to keep reaching within for the strength to continue on. And every time Washington and Jolie share the screen, tension of every kind (including a strong, surprising thread of sensual attraction) builds almost to the breaking point between them.
The plot is the weak link in the film-it has enough inconsistencies and plot holes in it to leave you gasping when it's over. But none of that matters while the camera is rolling. Strong supporting performances by Queen Latifah, Luis Guzman and Ed O'Neill add interest to the movie, as does the gritty and realistic portrayal of New York City. This is worthy of particular note, since a good portion of the movie was filmed in Montreal-though New Yorkers will spot inconsistencies at the airport, and will howl at the easy availability of taxies. But, minor quibbles aside, the movie is a strong one with great commercial appeal, though it's unlikely to receive much critical acclaim from the art house crowd. It's a great way to spend two hours.
* MPAA rating: R, for strong violent content including grisly images, and for language.
Denzel Washington: Lincoln Rhymes
Angelina Jolie: Amelia Donaghy
Queen Latifah: Thelma
Michael Rooker: Capt. Howard Cheney
Mike McGlone: Detective Kenny Solomon
Luis Guzman: Eddie Ortiz
Ed O'Neill: Detective Paulie Sellitto
A Universal Pictures presentation. Director Phillip Noyce. Producers Martin Bregman, Louis A. Stroller, Michael Bregman. Screenplay by Jeremy Iacone. Director of Photography Dean Semler, A.C.S., A.S. C. Editor William Hoy. Music Supervisor George Acogny, with original music by Craig Armstrong. Production designer Nigel Phillips. Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes.