Combustible Celluloid
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With: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Ed O'Neill, Michael Rooker, Mike McGlone, Leland Orser, Luis Guzman, John Benjamin Hickey, Bobby Cannavale
Written by: Jeremy Iacone, based on the novel by Jeffrey Deaver
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 118
Date: 08/29/1999

The Bone Collector (1999)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Bad to the 'Bone'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In The Bone Collector, directed by Phillip Noyce, DenzelWashington plays a quadriplegic forensic homicide detective who worksfrom his bed (and who, lucky for him, can still move his index finger tooperate a computer). Angelina Jolie plays a beat cop with built-ininstincts for the same line of work. To prove it she stops a subwaytrain to keep it from destroying evidence. Together they're on the trailof a clever serial killer.

When both stars are on screen together their dialogue is awkward, but when Jolie is at the crime scene and Washington is on her radio headset, they spark. It's too bad the movie couldn't have somehow held on to that energy. It starts out well as it builds its story but, by the second half, it has completely disintegrated into dust.

Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) co-stars as a police chief whose job it is to act irrationally and unreasonably and keep all the other cops from doing their jobs. He's the red herring for the real killer, who is easily spotted in the movie's one scene that isn't specifically designed to move the plot forward. On the other hand, Luis Guzman (The Limey) once again proves himself one of our best character actors. Queen Latifah and Ed O'Neill are also serviceable.

Director Noyce is an Australian who migrated to Hollywood after the success of his vicious thriller Dead Calm (1989). Since then, he's cranked out mediocre thrillers like Patriot Games (1992), Sliver (1993), and The Saint (1997). The screenplay, based on the book by Jeffrey Deaver, is by Jeremy Iacone who also wrote last year's horrible One Tough Cop. So we're not working with very much here. And the surprise should not be that the second half of this movie is so bad, but that the first half is so good.

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