The Bone Collector

on November 05, 1999 by Susan Green
   As each new movie about a serial killer seeks to outdo its predecessors, the plots become ever more convoluted while the crimes grow more ornate and grisly. It's getting so these fictional lunatics hardly have time to wash the dishes or do their laundry.
   The gruesome one-upmanship of "The Bone Collector"--directed with requisite stylishness and a few cheap scares by Philip Noyce--does not necessarily translate into better filmmaking. But a cast that includes Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie and Queen Latifah does make it worth watching when not covering your eyes to avoid the gore.
   Washington appears as Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant NYPD detective left paraplegic and prone to life-threatening seizures by an on-the-job accident four years earlier. Although arranging for his own euthanasia, he reluctantly agrees to help solve a string of murders. He in turn recruits a new partner--policewoman Amelia Donaghy (Jolie)--to serve as an extension of himself for investigating crime scenes, of which there are suddenly plenty. While Rhyme communicates with her through the state-of-the-art technology at his bedside, Amelia slowly cedes her naturally defensive attitude to accept a mentor-disciple relationship.
   Luckily, the chemistry sizzles between these two immensely talented actors, a welcome distraction from the improbable narrative adapted from a Jeffrey Deaver novel by screenwriter Jeremy Iacone.
   Latifah steals any scene she's in as Rhyme's hilariously no-nonsense, round-the-clock nurse. Ditto for Luis Guzman, playing a technician assigned to the case. Less successful is the usually fabulous Michael Rooker, in the thankless role of an uptight police commander who gets in the way of progress with bureaucratic bungling.
   Cinematographer Dean Semler manages to make the Montreal and London locations merge seamlessly with a cityscape of the Big Apple, where cinematic crime does not pay. Starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Luis Guzman, Michael Rooker, Ed O'Neill, Mike McGlone, Leland Orser and John Benjamin Hickey. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Written by Jeremy Iacone. Produced by Martin Bregman, Louis A. Stroller and Michael Bregman. A Universal release. Thriller. Rated R for strong violent content including grisly images, and for language. Running time: 117 min
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