Film Review: The Bone Collector
It's clich?all the way in Hollywood's latest entry into the serial killer
genre. Since the success of 'Seven' and 'Silence of the Lambs', a series of
run-of-the-mill wannabes have come and gone in the multiplexes, after withering
under the glare of the titans of the early 90's. However, 'The Bone Collector'
has one ace up its sleeve, the performances of Jolie and Washington, which
elevate the film above its dingy, depressingly recognisable trappings.
Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is a brilliant criminologist who was crippled in an accident whilst trying to save a victim. On the brink of suicide, he agrees to take on one last case (I can already hear your groans) of a serial killer who removes a victim's bone before gruesomely killing them. He enlists model-turned-cop Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) as his hands and eyes in each murder scene to track down the killer.
At this stage, you are no doubt heading straight for another review. And it's true that the script by Jeremy Iacone is barely average, piling on violent deaths as if they alone will be enough to blind us to the boring storyline. A career in meaningless action films beckons.
This film represents yet further proof that for director Philip Noyce, the tightly packed thrills of Aussie thriller 'Dead Calm' was simply a happy chance occurrence. He only copies the superior style of David Fincher and - like all copies - it doesn't look or feel real. However, despite trying to emulate their style, he has learned little of the subtlety of Fincher or Jonathon Demme ('Silence of the Lambs'). Those directors drew back to a large degree in showed the horrors that the victims went through. They may show the grisly aftermath, but at least we don't have to witness the actual killings. Noyce is determined to show us every revolting, voyeuristic moment, with little dramatic impact.
However, as I mentioned before, the film has one main strength, the acting of its leads. Angelina Jolie manages to be impressive no matter how bad the rest of the film is. Her role as the stiff cop with a tragic past is potentially thankless, but she manages to turn it into another star-making performance. But perhaps the most amazing thing is that Washington does not eclipse her. An actor who could turn reading the Golden Pages into an Oscar-worthy performance, he invests his likewise hackneyed character with gravitas and conviction which the script is unworthy of.. With a Best Actor nomination already a dead cert for his role in the upcoming 'The Hurricane', this is a small reminder of how good Washington really is, and how Hollywood has scandalously ignored him.
I managed to catch 'Seven' on television over Christmas, and was once again blown away by its brilliance. 'The Bone Collector' desperately wants to be considered in the same league, but fails in almost every department, from its inevitable red-herring suspects, to its terrible ending. If you're a fan of Washington or Jolie, you'll find a lot to admire. But if you are looking for a tense and exciting thriller, rent Hannibal Lector.