November 30, 1999 -- I finally got to see "The Bone Collector" the other day, by driving 50 miles to see it, and it really wasn't worth the trip. It is a so-so murder mystery with elements of the old TV show "Ironside," and "Seven."
In "Ironside" Raymond Burr played a detective paralyzed from the waist down by a bullet, but he continues to pursue cases from his wheelchair, using his brains instead of brawn to solve cases. "Seven," of course, was about two cops trying to solve a series of baffling ritualistic killings done by a fiendishly clever murderer. In this case, we have a ritualistic killer who deliberately leaves clues, daring the police to catch him, but the police are too stupid to catch on.
Enter forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme (played by Denzel Washington of "He Got Game"). He does have the brains to solve the case, but does he have the will? Rhyme, paralyzed from the waist down by an accident while investigating a murder, is ready to end it all, when he becomes fascinated by a new murder case, and a pretty cop, Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie of Pushing Tin").
Donaghy, a smart street cop, stumbles on a murder scene, and has the guts to stop a train to prevent evidence from being disturbed. She then gets a camera and photographs the evidence, just like she was taught in police academy, according to a book written by you know who. Rhyme is impressed with her work and decides she is the only person he will trust to work a crime scene for him, to be his eyes and ears, hands and feet. He remains in bed with his high-tech computer equipment to analyze the data.
Using cell phones and two-way radios, the two stay connected throughout the investigations. Rhyme is also aided by his formidable nurse, Thelma (Queen Latifah of "Living Out Loud"). He also has his allies in the department, including Det. Paulie Sellitto (Ed O'Neill of "Married, With Children" and "The Spanish Prisoner") and sharp forensics techie Eddie Ortiz (Luis Guzmán of "NYPD Blue"). Of course, it isn't enough they have to catch the bad guy, they also have to battle an incompetent police official, Capt. Howard Cheney (Michael Rooker), whose only purpose in the film seems to be to irritate everyone.
About the only thing interesting in the film is the police work, the painstaking assembling of little pieces of evidence into a case. The pursuit of clues and linking evidence together is cleverly done in the movie. Working the crime scene, seeing the links between clues. These are the basics of a murder mystery. As a murder mystery, this film works well enough. I couldn't guess who the killer was, but there was no suspense leading up to that. Once the killer was revealed, I knew exactly what would happen after that.
Jolie, who has lips as large as an inflatable flotation device, had a character that ranged from depression to delirium. There seemed to be no consistency in her character at all. Washington is a great actor and he shows it again in this film. Queen Latifah again shows her fine acting talent in her supporting role. She milks everything she can get out of her part in the film and then some.
Most of the acting is fine in this film. The problem is, this is supposed to be a suspense film and it just didn't seem to have any. There are numerous attempts to build suspense, but they just don't seem to work. It also sort of tries to do the gross-out bit like "Seven" did with hideous, execution-style killings, but it doesn't have the guts to go that far. There's also a romance that falls a bit short as well. For me, the only thing that worked was the forensics stuff, the murder mystery part of it, and that's not enough. This film rates a C.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.