The Bone Collector

Abandon all hope of logic, you who enter here. You could say this cop thriller is hard to swallow . . . you could say the same thing about Double Jeopardy, which is on its way to a $100 million blockbuster gross. So if audiences, especially women, are willing to suspend disbelief for Ashley Judd in her allegedly legal quest to kill her creep husband, why not cheer Angelina Jolie as Amelia Donaghy, a street cop who outsmarts the guys on the beat, not to mention a serial killer?

Jolie has the action edge on co-star Denzel Washington. As NYPD mastermind Lincoln Rhyme, Washington does all his acting while confined to bed. A rescue accident has left Lincoln paralyzed in his New York apartment with a nurse (an underused Queen Latifah) and an elaborate computer setup. To counter Lincoln's suicidal depression over life as a quadriplegic, the police call him in on a case involving a serial killer and a victim Amelia has found with one finger scraped to the bone.

Then, as the corpses pile up — one rat-eaten, all disfigured — Lincoln uses the rookie Amelia to do his legwork. The situation suggests Hitchcock's Rear Window, but the standard-issue script that Jeremy Iacone has fashioned from Jeffrey Deaver's best seller is way out of that master class. The chills come in watching director Phillip Noyce stick characters in tight corners — he performed wonders on a yacht a decade ago in Dead Calm. Washington spars expertly with new star Jolie, but the flirty stuff is a reach. Lincoln has feeling in his shoulders and one finger, and the babe cop touches those areas with sensual playfulness — getting a real rise out of that finger. It's harder to get a rise out of the deep silliness of The Bone Collector, given the true villain of the piece: aching familiarity.

From The Archives Issue 826: November 25, 1999