THE BONE COLLECTOR
Review by Michael Jacobson
Washington, Angelina Jolie, Ed O’Neill, Queen Latifah, Luis Guzman, Michael
Director: Phillip Noyce
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2000
Bone Collector tries
to be a film more about the process of investigation and less about the
results…the problem is, in a mystery oriented movie, the results need to be
somewhat substantial, or it leaves you feeling like you’ve traveled a long way
a film that boasts two masterful performances, by Denzel Washington and Angelina
Jolie, and a terrific concept for a crime story:
the pairing of a ingenious but paralyzed forensic detective with a young,
inexperienced patrol officer forced to become his hands and legs.
Unfortunately, the film is weighed down by far too generous helpings of
typical Hollywood conventionality. Why
is it, in most of these films, that a woman can’t just be a cop without also
looking like a supermodel? (And as
if to apologize for its obviousness, there’s a throwaway line about how the
girl used to model…you know, before
becoming a cop). And why is it only
in these kinds of films do homicidal maniacs always leave such carefully
structured and overtly puzzling clues for his pursuers?
Well, so the audience can enjoy the guessing game, naturally, and
hopefully never ponder why these guys can commit a murder and have so much time
to play around with these things rather than getting away.
Rhyme (Washington) is a brilliant forensics expert for the New York Police
Department. He has even written
several textbooks on the subject, and made the rounds on the lecture circuit.
He has a mind like a steel trap: he
studies everything he can get his hands on, and forgets nothing.
a routine investigation, an accident leaves him a quadriplegic, with movement
only in his head and one finger, and with a tendency toward violent spasms.
His condition is gradually worsening, and he makes arrangements not to be
left alive when and if the potential vegetative state ever arrives.
seems to have given up on life, until a new series of bizarre and brutal murders
breathes new energy into him. A
young patrol officer, Amelia (Jolie) stumbles onto a crime scene where a man has
been buried in a railroad station. She
carefully photographs the evidence, and the pictures wind up in Lincoln’s
hands. He senses she might have the
instincts to continue his work.
film follows the investigation of the deliberately staged clues, and each one
leads to a new victim, but of course, never in time to save them.
Before the picture is over, you’re going to witness among other things
a woman scalded to death by a steam pipe, and a man picked apart by rats.
scenes involving Amelia’s intrusion into the dark, eerie crime scenes under
the strict tutelage of Lincoln in his medical bed, are well structured, and both
leads bring a lot of juice to their respective roles. But other parts of the film toy with unnecessary territory,
including a couple of somewhat intimate scenes with Amelia and the crippled
Lincoln that inspire more cringing than romantic possibilities…is it always
necessary that there be a love angle?
the film definitely cheats in a big way. It
wants you to suspect a certain individual early on, and so badly that when we
see glimpses of the killer’s eyes behind his mask, they are obviously the eyes
of that actor, not the one who ends up
being the murderer. The final
revelation struck me as completely absurd and contrived, and I realized that the
only reason the movie had gone so far out of its way to mislead us is to try and
add some impact to the finale. It
the time the film ended, I was thinking back to all I had seen…the brutality
of the crimes, the constant need to place the beautiful Jolie in settings with
rats and disfigured bodies and manure…and without a satisfactory conclusion to
it all, I could only conclude that the filmmakers got some kind of sick pleasure
in showing us these things. Granted,
there are often brutal and unpleasant scenes in films like Eight
Millimeter or Seven, but in the end, those films went someplace with it all, and
had something very definite to say. “Don’t
shoot the messenger,” one of the characters quips in the film.
But what good is the messenger if he forgot to bring a message?
This anamorphic transfer is outstanding…one of Universal’s best offerings. Though the film ventures into many low light settings, there is never a hint of clarity problem, or for that matter, grain or compression evidence. Lighting is carefully controlled, and objects appear shadowy without being murky, and definition of key figures and objects is never lost. In the brighter scenes, colors are magnificently rendered and natural throughout. One scene involves a tracking POV shot from the killer’s point of view in a night club, and the camera tracks through various zones of colors and shadows. Everything is perfectly rendered.
5.1 soundtrack (choice of Dolby or DTS) has some good dynamic moments to pepper
the longer, quieter ones. Like
Lincoln, it lays dormant for a while, but life is always waiting to spring into
disc contains a director commentary, a Spotlight on Location featurette, a
trailer, production notes, talent files and some DVD ROM extras.