The Bone Collector (1999)

Directed by Phillip Noyce
Written by Jeremy Iacone, based on the book by Jeffery Deaver
Starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Ed O'Neill, Michael Rooker, Queen Latifah

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Lincoln Rhyme (Washington) is the best there is at what he does.  He is a forensics investigator for the NYPD.  Or at least he was until a tragic accident left him a quadriplegic.  But now, a beat cop (Jolie) has stumbled onto a murder that looks like the precursor to a bloodbath, and Rhyme has to use his brains to figure out what the killer wants and how he can be stopped.

Let me say this first and foremost: Denzel is a tremendous actor of incredible strength.  Even from a bed, he commands the scene easily and is a wonder to watch.  However, no actor could've been strong enough to carry this film through to the payoff.  Don't get me wrong, there are some things to like.  The character interaction is quite amusing, especially when you have good character actors in the background like Ed O'Neill or Luis Guzman.  They seem to be pretty fleshed out, so you can have some fun with them.  Then there's the cardboard cutouts, such as Michael Rooker's interfering superior officer—-he's acting by the numbers because that's all there is to do in his role.  Then there's Queen Latifah—-who's given nothing at all to do but put an oxygen mask on Denzel every fifteen minutes.  Then there's people caught in the liminal space between, such as Jolie herself.  She's the Clarice wannabe who could've been a contenda complete with interesting back story about her father, but all of that is handled in a pat, canned way that says to me the screenwriter and director had no idea what to do with it.

Speaking of the screenwriter—did he fall asleep at the end of the film?  You have all these great characters and decent situations for them to be in (a great scene between Jolie and her boyfriend is priceless). You have an original modus operandi for your killer-—and then you go positively nowhere with it.  In fact, once the payoff is revealed and we know who the killer is—-one never gets a satisfactory explanation as to why he's done what he's done, why he's gone to all this trouble.  In fact we can't fully appreciate what he's done or why mostly because it seems to become a non-issue for the majority of the flick.  And it's sad, because I was able to deal with all the other myriad plot holes (I can suspend disbelief way out—-remember, I like Bruckheimer films).  Bottom line is this: Denzel is great as always, but the movie around him seems to be on the slippery slope to rental hell.  And that's where you should wait for it.

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