The Bone Collector is a 1999 film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on a novel by Jeffery Deaver.
The film is so Nineties… The structure and atmosphere are copied from movies like Seven (1995) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The movie is full of genre and period clichés such as the character who’s the best cop out there but he’s haunted by a stormy past, plus there are plenty of well-known supporting actors of the time such as Michael Rooker, Luis Guzmán and Leland Orser. Too bad that the plot is really unoriginal and that it doesn’t even make too much sense, if you pay a bit of attention (and even if you don’t).
Here’s a plot summary. Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is a brilliant cop who’s bed-bound after an accident while doing his duty. He decides to commit suicide with the help of a doctor friend of his. But then here come a series of murders in which the killer leaves clues for the police. Rhyme gets hooked on the case and works on it alongside young Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), initially reluctant but then determined to help him.
What about the film? The plot is so obvious that after the initial 10 minutes I predicted who the killer was and I got it right. On the other hand, in the Nineties there were hundreds of thrillers with a final plot twist, so it’s normal to imagine who will be at the center of that plot twist soon enough. Then the plot feels very forced in many occasions. Why does Rhyme force Amelia to work on the case even if she doesn’t want to and, above all, even if it’s not her job? He doesn’t even know her, why does he want her so badly? And then why does he force her to enter alone in the most horrible places in New York where, among other things, a dangerous killer could be waiting for her?
Then, Rhyme’s intuitions are practically superhuman, but since he’s presented as a true genius I’m willing to accept that. In fact, the stupidest thing of all is the following: the killer does everything he can in order to kill a man… who has already decided to die anyway! Rhyme wants to commit suicide! The killer could just wait a couple of days and that would be it. What does he gain by killing him?
Then, Angelina Jolie’s acting doesn’t help at all (she has the same expression throughout the whole film), and she’s not even credible in the role of a street policewoman (and therefore here comes the cliché of the police father who died tragically as a justification for her life choice). Denzel Washington does much more and he’s in bed the whole time! Although the final fight is truly ridiculous, let me say that.
In short, it’s hard to be positive about a movie whose plot is predictable and it’s clunky at the same time. The very dark cinematography by veteran Dean Semler is good, and it’s always nice to see New York, but in my opinion The Bone Collector doesn’t have many other positive aspects. Ciao!
PS: There had been four more murders before the one discovered by Amelia and with which Rhyme started to be involved, right? Then, why are only the latest murders depicted in the book The Bone Collector found by Amelia in the library? Theoretically, the killer had also left clues before, right?