The Bone Collector

7 out of 10

Rhyme & Reason

It is rapidly becoming impossible to turn on a TV without seeing a bunch of folks in white lab coats peering at grisly human remains on an examination table. The public's interest in forensics has been a discovery by the channels as big as finding oil in Alaska was to the petroleum industry. With series regularly spawning a whole run of spin-offs, titles like "CSI" and "Davinci's Inquest" have proven ratings magnets. And before them all came..."The Bone Collector". Making for $146million despite only a meagre budget of $48million, its well researched story was based on forensics would seem to have been a hit with audiences, yet, close inspection shows that it was on video, not at the box office, that "The Bone Collector" has been a success. To the average eye of Joe Public, himself now an expert from half a decade of being glued to the screen infront of CSI, much of what had seemed like brilliant deduction, now seems so amateurish, obvious and, in some cases, the dialogue is seriously inconsistent, but one still not to be missed. For the revolution in viewing that the "Bone Collector" set in motion has long passed it by, as much as DVDs in colour and sound have surpassed the silent flicks of Buster Keaton.

Nearly totally paralysed by an accident in the line of duty, Detective and lecturer Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) lies in bed, occasionally having seizures. Awaiting the big one that will turn him into a cabbage, he pleads with his doctor to agree to assist him to death, but events overtake him. When a missing property tycoon is discovered buried in weird circumstances by a rookie cop, Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), the NYPD tempt Rhyme back for this one last case to solve. Imppressed by foresight that Donaghy has shown in protecting the crime scene and evidence, Rhyme brings her in as hs protoge, even though her actions would be second nature by now to any fans of CSI.

As it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the loose and that many other lives are in danger, Rhyme and his team of forensic experts, now campedout around his bed in his apartment, must race agains time and a Mentor-Student relationship develops between Rhyme and Donaghy. Despite being the expert on forensics, Rhyme sounds increasingly like the Yoda of crime, telling her to use her "feelings" - hardly a scientific approach. Likewise, in one sentence he tells her that "we all make our own destinies" and the next that he tells her that she has a gift that she has inherited.

With its fine quality finish, dazzling with Dean Simler's cinematography and some convincing characters, "The Bone Collector" makes a great evening's entertainment to go with a pizza with the girlfriend, yet somehow something is missing. Director Philip Noyce fails to capitalise on the various red herrings that swim through the story, including Queen Latifa as Thelma, Rhyme's home help, and Michael Rooker, as the singularly unhelpful Captain Howard Cheney, and he doesn't deliver the punch necessary at the end. Although a thrilling ride with its twist in the last reel, unlike flicks like "Blood Work", the serial killer cannot be figured out from the clues, leaving the mystery novel afficionados feeling cheated, despite it being based on a book by Jeffery Deaver. It shows Noyce underestimating the intelligence of his audience and had a fundamental failure to understand this new genre of forensic whodunnits that was just beginning to take root in the public's imagination.

One To Rent, Not To Collect

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett