The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector starts off strong, with a healthy mix of suspense, humour, gore, and violence, but falters towards the end as it becomes too contrived (which does result in a lot of (unintentional) humour but doesn't serve well as an intense action flick).

Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is a forensics officer who was paralysed from the neck down during a rescue operation, except for his ability to move one finger. He is still in active duty, and his medical care is paid for by his insurance company (part of which includes an elaborate computer setup to counteract his inability to move). He is consulted on a case where a serial killer in New York City is mutilating his victims in grotesque manner and leaving behind clues as to the location of his next kill. Rhyme manages to piece the clues together along with the help of Amelia Donahgy (Angelina Jolie), who reluctantly becomes Rhyme's eyes and ears at the crime scene. But they are always one step behind and are too late to save victims from boiled alive by steam or eaten alive by rats. All this leads to a decent build up of suspense as the true identity, and the motives, of the killer are slowly revealed to us.

Within that basic story outline, there is a lot of complexity. The relationship between Rhyme and Donahgy is complicated, not just because the latter is reluctant to be a forensics officer but also because of their pasts (which says a lot about the character development in this film): Rhyme has led a solitary life obsessed about his work, and, after his accident, he becomes primarily interested in self-terminating. Donahgy is scared of repeating her father's suicide and therefore avoids any semblance of "real" police work. However, at times, the complexity in their relationship sinks to base depths (such as the time Donahgy feels Rhyme's finger after he has a seizure).

Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie give fine performances and the chemistry between them is good, though too syrupy at times. Jolie's performance as Rhyme's "puppet" is excellent, with the right amount of indignation and passivity at her treatment. The cinematography is bleak, much like the setting in Seven. The killings are performed in a novel and hideous manner and the scenes can be disturbing at times. The ending is where The Bone Collector fails the most: Rhyme is paralysed from the neck down, but yet he is almost able to hold his own against a vicious killer. Also, the more intense confrontational scenes are way over-the-top and degenerate into humourous ones.

The Bone Collector is a good time-killer that's worth the matinee fare if you get a chance (or if you have a crush on Angelina Jolie). Otherwise, I'd recommend skipping it.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||