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The Bone Collector

Rated [R], 118 minutes
Starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Luis Guzman, Michael Rooker
and Ed O'Neill
Screenplay by Jeremy Iacone
Based on the book by Jeffery Deaver
Directed by Philip Noyce

The Bone Collector falls into the realm of Thriller, rather than the slice 'n' dice generic horrorflick we've gotten used to over the last bunch of years. In it, Denzel Washington stars as Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic police detective who has lost the will to live and Angelina Jolie as Amelia Donaghy, the able bodied cop who finds herself unwillingly doing all the leg work that he cannot.

Does that sound like a movie pitch line, or what? Of course it does. But with an A-list name above the credits, you expect more than special effects, and Denzel Washington is too smart an actor, and too intelligent a human being -- we've met him. The dude's cool -- to cheaply exploit a disabled character. Washington told us in his StarTalk that, as an actor "I realized what a challenge it could be; we didn't even know, going in, if it would work, playing a guy that doesn't move, could only move one finger, and was essentially a talking head. The question is: How do you make that interesting?"

You leave it to the writer, in this case Jeremy Iacone adapting the novel by Jeffery Deaver, to come up with something interesting and compelling. If the supporting cast is too small, you make the murders especially gruesome and the mystery they present especially twisted. In this case that means someone is roaming the New York City streets, kidnapping the innocent and carving 'em up right down to the bone. It isn't the cutting that kills the victims, it's what happens to them afterwards 'cuz the killer is far too creative a sadistic sumbitch for that. Small clues left at the scene, things that only an expert forensic cop like Washington's Rhyme would understand, are deliberately left behind. Rhyme, who has finally found a doctor willing to help him pull the plug, finds the challenge of putting this puzzle together enough to spark the police brain inside his head back to life. Jolie's character, who has an instinctive feel for forensics work, is essentially ordered into the story. Rhyme still commands a full range of police support -- Ed O'Neill as his former partner; Luis Guzman as a high tech criminologist; Michael Rooker as the police commander adversary who has problems with a cripple running "his officers" all around the City -- and has enough insurance to cover a full time medical aide (Queen Latifah, who is especially good). As the murders get increasingly, um, disgusting, Donaghy finds that her cop instincts are exactly what the guy in the bed told here they were. Real good.

The Bone Collector gets gory but thankfully director Philip Noyce allows most of the truly gruesome stuff to happen offscreen. That doesn't make seeing the results any easier, but the flick never degenerates into a standard slice 'n' dice. If that's what turns you were hoping for, you are in need of serious mental help.

Those of you that have read the history page have probably figured out that Cranky was paralyzed for a while -- I was wide awake for the very brief time when my status went from para to quadriplegic and there's nothing more terrifying than that. Long time readers also know that I'll nail any flick that screws with the medical aspects of spinal injuries. There's nothing to nail in this flick. The details are all there, if you're looking for them but they're all subjugated to the murder-mystery story, which is pretty damn good. Unlike most adaptations, what made it from the print page to the screen holds together pretty well.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Bone Collector, he would have paid...


Hmm... dateflick level for a gory murder mystery. Must be something about the chemistry between Washington and Jolie that makes it a couples flick. Tipping you to the one thing that didn't work for me would spoil the ending so I'll warn those who take pleasure in using their brainpower to try to second guess the ending not to, 'cuz when you shoot your mouth off that you figured it out, someone'll hit you.

Click to buy films by Philip Noyce
Click to buy films starring Denzel Washington
Click to buy films starring Angelina Jolie

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