Wednesday 4 January 2023

Movie Review: The Bone Collector (1999)

Genre: Crime Mystery Thriller
Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, Luis Guzman, Ed O'Neill
Running Time: 118 Minutes

Synopsis: In New York City, police detective and crime scene investigation expert Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is a bedridden quadriplegic, cared for around the clock by nurse Thelma (Queen Latifah). A wealthy industrialist and his wife are kidnapped by a taxi-driving maniac, and the tycoon is soon found dead near rail tracks. Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) is the first police officer on the scene, and Lincoln recognizes her innate evidence-gathering talent. They work together to try and rescue the murdered man's wife in what proves to be a series of connected grisly incidents.

What Works Well: This slick adaptation of Jeffrey Deaver's book benefits from the novelty of a quadriplegic as the central protagonist, and Denzel Washington is reliably excellent in the role. Rhyme's partnership with Amelia as his on-scene eyes and ears is suitably thorny. Director Phillip Noyce leverages cavernous, spooky, and dark crime scene settings without getting lost in shades and shadows.

What Does Not Work As Well: Thrusting Amelia as a cop with limited crime scene experience into the lead role of a complex and high-profile investigation is a huge leap of faith, while Rhyme demonstrates a remarkable ability to repeatedly connect small and spaced out dots. The nameless murder victims do not generate sympathy, and a sense of repetition creeps in as Amelia flashlights her way through one crime scene after another. The antagonist's backstory is flash fried.

Conclusion: A competent crime drama bumps against the limits of its own creativity.

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