The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector, the new film by Phillip Noyce (The Saint, Clear and Present Danger) is a slick, if not empty, serial killer thriller. The basic story is the same here as it is in the millions of other movies where it has been told over and over. This time, the protagonists are Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington, The Hurricane, The Fallen) and Amanda Donaghy (Angelina Jolie, Pushing Tin, Playing By Heart), and they are up against a serial killer posing as a taxi driver. When you see some unsuspecting person step into his cab, you see a close up shot of a monkey in a noose, dangling from the rear view mirror (the film never tells what happens if you touch his monkey). Of course, the driver leaves a string of complex clues at each murder, and it is up to Rhyme and Donaghy to decode the clues and capture the killer.

Rhyme used to be a forensics officer, but was paralyzed in an accident a couple years back. Now, he spends his time bed ridden, depressed, and looking for a way to end his life. Donaghy is a gutsy, young police beat officer, who is trying to transfer to child services. Donaghy shows gumption and forensic talent when investigating a body found near some tracks, and when Rhyme is asked for help on the case, he wants Donaghy to work with them. Why Donaghy? Rhyme says he wants a fresh pair of eyes to look at the evidence. Who cares that she has no formal forensics training and there must be plenty of trained policemen in the New York Police Department who can probably do it better. Besides, we need a story here. Donaghy is initially put off by Rhyme's abrasiveness and arrogance, but it is obvious to everyone that she does have a talent for forensics, and it is even more obvious that they will get along by the time the movie is over. Donaghy becomes a body for Rhyme, going to the crime scene, "walking the grid" (looking over the crime scene), and the story turns into a cat and mouse chase to catch the killer before the bodycount rises. The case serves as a sort of affirmation for Rhyme, proving to himself that he is not useless anymore, and that there is some purpose to his life. Real deep things going on here.

Jeremy Iacone's (One Tough Cop) script offers no surprises. Everything is strictly by the numbers, and pretty predictable. The acting is not bad, but nothing to drool over. Washington has the unenviable job of playing a man who only has use of one finger and his head and neck. Jolie, next appearing in Girl Interrupted with Winona Ryder, does better. She is a rising star in Hollywood, merely putting notches in her belt before getting some really good roles. The Bone Collector has many good supporting actors including Queen Latifah (Living Out Loud, Sphere), Ed O'Neill (Married With Children, Pre), and Luis Guzman (Out of Sight, The Limey), but the film focuses so completely on Washington and Jolie that their roles and screen time is severely limited. Are there better serial killer films out there? Sure. Are worse serial killer films out there? Definitely. The Bone Collector is merely filler for the period between the big meaningless summer films and the meatier Oscar fair that emerges at the end of the year.

Haro Rates It: Okay
1 hour, 58 minutes, Rated R for violent content including grisly images, and for language.

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