Director: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Ed O’Neill, Michael Rooker, Queen Latifah
Plot: When a serial killer strikes, rookie cop, Amelia Sachs (Jolie) is partnered up with great criminologist, quadriplegic Lincoln Rhymes (Washington). Little does she know, Rhymes is contemplating suicide…
OK, before we begin this review, I think it is best to say that the book, of which this film is based on, is one of my favourite books. Therefore I am aware that there will be a fair amount of extreme bias going into this review. I am not annoyed that this book is being made into a film, because there is a certain amount of cinematic potential in the novel. Lincoln Rhymes and Amelia Sachs are well written characters and are worthy of becoming Hollywood heroes. It is just that this film really lets the characters, book and author down.
Rhyme is a fantastic, unique character in the world of crime fiction. He is a forensic expert, who was paralysed while searching a crime scene. He was left with few muscle movements: he can turn his head and use his index finger. Nothing else. During the events of the film, he is contemplating killing himself, when an old friend, Lon Selitto (played by Ed O’Neill, who I have only ever seen do comedy – ‘Married with Children’ – making him a surprising, yet pleasant addition to the cast), brings a case to his attention. A serial killer is murdering people who get into his taxi and obsessing over their bones. After each death, he leaves clues for the great detective to solve. When Rhyme is paired up with Amelia Sachs, daughter of a hero cop, struggling to find her own feet in the police academy, a cat and mouse game begins.
What really annoys me here is that author Jeffrey Deaver gives director Noyce a great story to work with, yet it never really manages to get above average slasher flick. It comes across as a Se7en wannabe, even trying to copy the dark, noir tone. Seeing as screen-writer, Jeremy Iacone, hasn’t got any other scripts to his name, it suggests that Noyce got a newbie or friend to whack up a script version of the book, or the writer did such a bad job, he never got work again. Either way, it implies that no one really put the amount of effort this film deserved into the production of the film, which is a sad fact.
The film does stay true to the story of the book for the first half of the running time. With the exception that they changed the gender of Thom, Rhyme’s carer, the events proceed as expected. They find the first body and the second, just as the book said. Then the director seemed to realise that he was running out of time. The script cut corners in the book and rushed the ending, meaning the villain wasn’t properly built up. Even the red herrings were so overtly obvious, which is painful, as the red herrings are one of Deaver’s strong points in his books. They took a chilling bad guy from the book and completely changed the twist ending. When you find out who the Bone Collector actually is, you will probably be like ‘who?’ Also, one of my favourite scenes from the books, the moment where Sachs is wandering around a cramped, dark basement, unaware of two starved Dobermans lurking in the shadows, was cut. It would have been one of the climaxes of the story, rather than just fizzling out with a quick wrapping up of who the bad guy turned out to be.
The film’s saving point is the fact that Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie are perfect as the characters. Washington doesn’t have much to do, other than stay in a bed, yet he still breathes life into the character, really getting the right touches of emotion across to the audience. Angelina Jolie steals the show though as Sachs. It was great to see her inject personality into the character from the books and get her on her feet. I loved the ‘Bronx’ accent and thought the scenes the actors shared together were the best parts of the film. It is a shame, because it makes me realise how great this series could have been in the cinema. As it stands, it will be a forgettable 90s thriller, you probably have never heard of before.
Final verdict: Forgettable and weak. A promising start fades into a dull climax.