Copyright 1999-2003 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

Bams' review of
The Bone Collector


The Bone Collector (1999)
Rated R; running time 128 minutes
Genre: Thriller
Official site:
IMDB site:
Written by: Jeremy Iacone (based on the book by Jeffery Deaver)
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, Luis Guzman, Ed O'Neill, Leland Orser, John Benjamin Hickey

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 1999

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

I must make a confession right off the bat: this review will be partially tainted by my bias against thrillers. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to review this movie; as strong a Short Black Chick as I am, I have an extremely weak stomach - and The Bone Collector sorely tested me. Sad to say, I failed the test; not only did I get physically ill, I cried at the end - and not because this flick was a tear-jerker (it wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination). All this to say, you must take my rating with the grain of salt that this most def wasn't a Bammer Flick to begin with. However, I temper that statement by saying that, genre elements aside, there are other factors in this movie that I was able to be as objective as possible about, so don't discount what you're about to read below just because I needed some Serious Therapy after watching Bone...

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
Link Rhyme (Denzel Washington) was a Top-Notch NYPD Forensics cop and true-crimes writer, a Criminologist in the true sense of the term, until his career (and almost life) is cut short when a huge beam falls on him during a crime scene investigation. Paralyzed almost completely ("except for one finger, my shoulders, my head, and my mind"), he is still able to use his sharp mind and remain on the active duty roster, even from his hi-teched-out apartment - but he fears the seizures he experiences will leave him in a vegetative state. He makes a pact with Dr. Lehman (John Benjamin Hickey), against the wishes of his health care worker, Thelma (Queen Latifah), to disconnect the health monitors that Richard Thompson (Leland Orser) installed, if that ever happens.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town...Officer Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) discovers a gruesome crime scene, which she valiantly protects by stepping in front of a moving train to stop it from disturbing the evidence. Catching wind of her balls-y actions, Rhyme enlists her reluctant help, along with Top-Notch police chemist Eddie Ortiz (Luis Guzman) and Det. Paulie Sellitto (Ed O'Neill), to stop a sadistic serial killer in his tracks - much to the dismay of ObAsshole Capt. Howard Cheney (Michael Rooker). But who is the killer, and why is he committing such gruesome murders?

After watching Bone, I know the "who". It's the "why" that makes me shake my head with wonder at the lengths movie-makers will go through to try to "entertain" their audience; or more bluntly, to get the duckets rollin' in.

Oh, it started evenly enough. If you're into that sorta thing, the gory thriller aspects were, literally, right out of the book; "Freddie Kruger" and pals ain't got nuthin' on this crew. I Felt Amelia's Pain when she said she couldn't handle dealing with the gore the killer left behind, but had to; I wanted to bolt from the theater many times myself, but I made the commitment to do this review, and (with my husband's help) forced myself to look at the screen through my disgust at the nastiness involved. But my disgust at the plot holes...well, that's a different story (I'll come back to this in a moment).

For the most part, the actors were adequate, if not good, in their roles. As foine as Washington is (and more to the point, as good an actor as he is), he was restrained in this role, out of the necessity of having to act the part of a totally paralyzed cop. All the gadgets and gizmos in the room couldn't help him bring this role; it makes me wonder how a real quadriplegic actor would've handled it. Still, he wasn't bad, per se, and during the next-to-last scene (the one that caused my tension-related cry), he was quite good in what must have been a difficult part for him to play (oh yeah; my co-reviewer - my husband, Bear - wanted me to mention the sense of humor Denzel displayed, specifically when he joked about Jolie's character being in trouble for "molesting the handicapped". This, of course, must be seen in context to be fully understood).

Jolie was, I think, the better of the two leads; subtly beautiful (I was struck by the way she looked good without trying to), more akin to Homicide's Kay Howard than Renee Shepard [that one's for you, Jhim], I found her believable in her role as a Street Cop With Skeletons. Guzman is one of those great character actors who you always notice, but can never remember his name. His easy sense of humor and firm grasp of his role made his character stand out from the background, as did (surprisingly) O'Neill's Sellitto, and mah gurl Queen Latifah (in Yet Another role as an aide; but that seems to be her speed, so I won't sweat it). And the camera work, hilited in the rain-falling-down shots, as well as a brilliant, MTV-esque sequence that moved with lightning speed from a street scene up to Rhyme's apartment, was quite effective (though they went to the rain well once too many times).

The shortcuts that were taken by the writer and director, though, were what turned me off, almost as much as the nature of the film itself. Though Rooker has a history of playing the ObligatoryAsshole, there was no sense of backstory to show why his assholiness was so assholy, here; surely, movie writers, there must be one New York Police Captain who isn't "a living monument to ineptitude", eh? These kind of characters, stoopid without cause, are just too through. And before I forget, what's up with having those characters jump into a New York river on "November 9th" (as the writer, for ghod knows what reason, had Thelma point out) - only to come out basically dry, and more to the point, not suffering from at least minor hypothermia? Man, I hate it when the strings show like that.

But the biggest crime comes in the form of the killer himself, the "motivation" given as the reason he did what he did, and as the movie went on, the "aha's" to the clues the killer left. It felt as if two writers worked on this movie: one that handled the killer and Rooker characters, another that took care of everything else. And the final insult was the pasted-on ending that DID NOT FIT the flow of the rest of the movie; there was an audible "huh?" in the theater. There was one good though about it, though: it shook the chill that pervaded my body during the scene that preceded it, right off me.

THE "BLACK FACTOR"    [ObDisclaimer: We Are Not A Monolith]

In my review of The Best Man, I spoke of "color indifference": the mindset that, specific cultural issues aside, many experiences are universal, and don't require an actor of a specific ethnicity to play a given role (the Whitney Houston TV version of Cinderella was a good example of this; it had actors of multiple ethnicities play roles that made some people blink - especially with Brandy as Cinderella and Bernadette Peters as her stepmother). Color-indifferent casting, though still rare, is happening more often with big-name stars cast in what were written originally as "White" roles. Actors like Washington, here in Bone - as well as Eriq LaSalle's (from the ER TV series) "Lucas Davenport" character from the "Prey" series of books by John Sanford - have been beneficiaries of such color-indifferent casting. Whatever the motivation behind this, I only hope it's not just a passing fad.

If gory thrillers with no real sense of direction, stock characters that fit the Bad Guy mold to a T, and plot twists that aren't so twisty, are your Thing, you'll probably be one of the millions that'll make this flick the Next Big Movie of this week (or so says my husband, anyway; and I think he's as right as the stylistic rain that kept falling, very noticeably, throughout Bone). For me, though, the sheen on the surface didn't hide the hollowness within. And be forewarned: you might want to take a barf bag...


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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 1999
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed week of 11/5/99):

Bams' reviews:
The Bone Collector | The Bachelor

The Diva's reviews:
The Bone Collector | The Messenger: Joan Of Arc (sneak preview)

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