1999; Rated R; 118 Minutes
Denzel Washington: Lincoln Rhyme
Angelina Jolie: Amelia Donaghy
Queen Latifah: Thelma
Michael Rooker: Capt. Howard Cheney
Mike McGlone: Det. Kenny Solomon
Luis Guzmán: Eddie Ortiz
Leland Orser: Richard Thompson
John Benjamin Hickey: Dr. Barry Lehman
Bobby Cannavale: Steve
Ed O'Neill: Det. Paulie Sellitto
Produced by Martin Bregman, Michael Scott Bregman,
Bo Dietl, Dan Jinks, Michael Klawitter and Louis A. Stroller;
Directed by Phillip Noyce; Screenwritten by Jeremy
Iacone; based on the novel by Jeffery Deaver
by DAVID KEYES
serial killer movies have an excuse for being odd--people
who kill other human beings tend to make the scenario more
interesting when they slay their victims in non-routine
ways. Reflect for a brief second why Buffalo Bill skinned
women in "The Silence Of The Lambs," and why the killer
in "Seven" used the infamous seven deadly sins as his trademark.
If you're going to get noticed in the movies, you need to
stir up the police departments interest with unfamiliar
styles. Otherwise, the murderers become ordinary and mix
in with the orthodox type.
approach of "The Bone Collector" is the newest in a series
of "inventive" styles of serial killer films. It follows
off the heals of those from last year's market--the respectable
"Desperate Measures," and the modestly mediocre "Fallen."
Like both of those pictures, this is more of a mixed bag--its
serial killer has a novel approach when it comes to homicide,
but he and the others are basically pulling a sheet over
familiar styles and plot tricks. In other terms, its the
same old lollipop with a new sugar coating.
variety, the plot puts the opposing force in a hospital
bed, paralyzed, with nothing to do but to guide a police
official assigned to carrying out his work. He's a Forensics
expert played by Denzel Washington, and she's a recent graduate
who has read all his books played by Angelina Jolie. Washington
is one of the top detectives of his time, but the accident
that left him paralyzed changes that. When Jolie's character,
the ambitious Amelia Donaghy, locates a dreadful crime at
a set of train tracks, she preserves the evidence so well
that the detective, Lincoln Rhyme, offers her a chance to
do some "real police work." She accepts.
tidbits that attract our fascination are mainly in the crimes
themselves--a killer who, as we see on screen, gets his
victims from taxi cabs collects their bones after he maliciously
tortures and kills them. On screen imagery displays the
style of these murders, and it is arguably the most grotesque
sights you will see in a movie this year. But they are unique
nonetheless, both in the way they are committed, and in
the way that the killer leaves the clues for the officials
to pick up on. Part of the fascination with these kinds
of movies is the inexplicable reason why the killer purposely
gives the police leads on their own cases. This picture
does nothing to change that, and rightfully so.
movie pulls out all the stops--it has heavy drama, tension,
solid acting, attractive cinematography, an eerie mood,
and most importantly, a killer to confuse the federal officials.
But what is missing from all this? Inspiration, for starters.
For each of the virtues, there is a similar direction taking
them through familiar territory, mulling down their potential.
Take the "who's behind the mask?" mystery, for example--how
often is a murderer with odd ways of committing murder revealed
long before the story intends? Phillip Noyce's direction
aims to keep us at bay for the most of the duration of the
running time, but he gives away too many clues an hour into
the mystery, setting us up for an ending that is contrived
Jolie is a striking screen presence (at least most of the
time), but here she has lost a tad of prospect, letting
Rhyme instruct her every move as if she's a puppet. The
case builds with strong interest for the police officials,
but it is ultimately Amelia who must get down to the dirty
work, and so when she needs this man to guide her every
move, we are disappointed in her lack of preparation (experience
is one thing, but she's read most of the books that Rhyme
has written. Isn't that enough?). In one scene, a look of
horror graces here face at the sight of a slaughtered corpse.
This feels unjustified at first, but later, it is explained--she
was the one, after all, who discovered her father's corpse.
How odd, then, that a woman with this kind of background
could be so involved with a case in which she must discover
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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