Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Bone Collector

Psychological thrillers are generally pretty hit-or-miss, and to make them work, filmmakers have to practice a rare sort of alchemy. The villains have to be smart, but not smart enough that they can't be caught. The cops have to be crafty, but not too crafty: After all, there wouldn't be much of a movie if the villain were brought to justice during the film's first half-hour. But above all, they have to sustain a tone of creepy, claustrophobic menace, one of the main reasons you won't see many comic characters in grisly psycho-thrillers, and why there are so few truly great films in the genre. The Bone Collector is a good example of how a movie can get almost everything right and still never really work, like a puzzle in which almost every piece is in place. Denzel Washington stars as a brilliant forensic investigator and author who, having lost the use of his legs, is forced to spend his days in a nifty, gizmo-bedecked bed. When a serial killer begins terrorizing New York City and taunting the police, Washington recruits rookie cop Angelina Jolie to act as his eyes and ears because, well, Jolie is billed second in the credits. Employing the same metropolis-as-hellish-nightmare-of-depravity tone as Seven, to much lesser effect, The Bone Collector seems to have been assembled out of bits of other, mostly superior psycho-thrillers, particularly The Silence Of The Lambs and Copycat. Gruesome but not particularly suspenseful, well-acted but never particularly convincing, The Bone Collector is at best workmanlike and competent. Director Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm) keeps things competitive until the film's climax, at which point it loses what little plausibility it has, degenerating into generic schlock. The Bone Collector is also one of those irritating little whodunits in which quick-witted viewers can tell who the killer is simply by paying close attention to the opening credits, which is never a good sign—and usually the result of lazy work on the part of both the filmmakers and the marketing people.

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