There is something inherently fascinating about serial killers
and exploring the pathology behind these psychopaths that continues to
intrigue writers and film makers, and, ultimately, audiences. Seven
and Silence Of The Lambs are probably the pinnacle of this genre.
Based on the novel by Jeffrey Deaver, a best selling author who
specialises in thrillers about psychotic killers and forensic
evidence, The Bone Collector is a solid and generally well made
thriller that follows in their footsteps.
Although not quite in the same league, The Bone Collector
still crams in enough creepy moments and shocks to satisfy fans of
this sort of stuff. If nothing else, it may scare you away from
catching a taxi late at night! However, the film is ultimately let
down by a rather disappointing conclusion.
The opening credit sequence immediately recalls Seven, while
it also effectively establishes the back-story in much the same
fashion employed by Aussie director Jon Hewitt in the recent Redball.
With a deliberate nod in the direction of Rear Window, the
film introduces us to an unusual hero in Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel
Washington), a once brilliant forensic investigator left a bed-ridden
quadriplegic. Much of the novel dealt with Rhyme's depressed nature
and his suicidal tendencies, but the film version moves away from this
psychologically darker territory. Although physically infirm, Rhyme
is asked by a former colleague (Ed O'Neill) to put his skills to use
in tracking down a vicious new serial killer. This mysterious killer
prowls New York in a taxi cab, executes his victims in rather gruesome
fashion, and leaves the scene littered with clues that point towards
his next crime.
A crucial element of Rhyme's investigative team is Amelia
Donaghy (Angelina Jolie, recently seen in Pushing Tin, etc), a rookie
cop who demonstrates a flair for forensic science. She becomes his
eyes, ears and legs, gathering evidence which he interprets with the
help of some state of the art equipment in his apartment. This
unusual pair race against time to uncover the identity of the killer
as the body count and the tension slowly mounts.
Ex-patriate director Phillip Noyce makes great mainstream
Hollywood action films (Clear And Present Danger, Patriot Games, etc),
and he handles this formulaic thriller competently enough. In true
Hitchcock fashion, he throws in a few clever, but contrived, red
herrings and some artful pieces of misdirection, particularly as the
film nears its climax. Like David Fincher in Seven, Noyce
deliberately downplays some of the more graphic moments. But he shows
us just enough of the sadistic killer's handiwork to let our
imaginations switch to overdrive, which adds to the gritty suspense.
Much of the film takes place in claustrophobic settings, dirty
subterranean tunnels and long abandoned, decrepit buildings, and Dean
Semler's suitably dark and gloomy perfectly matches the mood of this
The role of Rhyme is seemingly tailor made for former Superman
star Christopher Reeve, but that is a piece of (type?)casting that is
too obvious, even for Hollywood. To his credit, Noyce has gone for
something less predictable. Washington brings plenty of dignity and
charisma to a role that is physically challenging because of its very
nature. Jolie (actor Jon Voight's daughter) has an intelligent, sexy,
engaging and appealing screen presence, and her performance here
confirms her status as a star of the future. The gradually developing
relationship between the pair brings an understated air of sexual
tension to proceedings, and the rapport that develops between the pair
cries out for a sequel.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King