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Leading forensics expert and New York City detective, Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington), is bed bound after a backbone crushing accident, able to talk and move one finger, with which he controls his technological world, from the computers to the angle of recline of his bed. But his carer, Thelma (Queen Latifah), does the real work. Rhyme, subject to fits, any one of which could leave him a vegetable, is ready to 'make the transition' with the help of the doctor on his case, Dr Barry Lehman (John Benjamin Hickey). A brilliant, published forensics expert, Rhyme's eternal exit is interrupted by a request he can't refuse, to help a singular new case. This follows the discovery of a savage slaying, and young female policewoman Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) impresses Rhyme with her sharp instincts and procedures at the crime scene. She reluctantly becomes Rhyme's body in the search for a vicious serial killer whose murders continue and whose clues taunt and frustrate the team.

"As the film's climactic scene shuddered to a sharply executed conclusion, the lady behind me exclaimed with pleasure, "Oh shit! . . . I'm exhausted!" Phil Noyce made his commercial cinematic bones with the Nicole Kidman/Billy Zane/Sam Neill thriller, Dead Calm (1989); a decade later, The Bone Collector reaffirms the thriller as his strong suit. Using the classic tools of the genre - and even allowing a Hitchcockian, silent, three second appearance himself - Noyce begins to tighten the screws on our suspense at the start, and maintains it with style. He has the benefits of a cleverly adapted screenplay and a terrific ensemble cast who provide depth, humour and intelligence, as required. Denzel Washington is a commanding Rhyme, managing to make credible the character's encyclopeadic knowledge, even without the help of the novel's backstory and other information. Angelina Jolie's performance - a well judged balance between smart and strong on the one hand, feminine on the other - succeeds, despite her pumped up lips, which I find curiously irritating and distracting. But as novelist Deaver explains in a subsequent INTERVIEW, he always gives his characters physical idiosyncrasies - and Amelia's are the lips. (A case of lip-type casting?) And Married With Children's Ed O'Neill is a terrific pleasant surprise as Rhyme's ex-partner, a cop with heart and guts. Craig Armstrong's fabulous score helps carry the tone and mood of the film in a continuum of musical motifs and colours, right from the terrific, dark opening moments. The Bone Collector is a gripping, sometimes horrifying and edgy thriller noir, with a touch of gothic and a classic, unpredictable (by me) twist - yet not without humour, and even with a whiff of romance. And that will develop in the sequel. . . The lady behind me better start working out to get ready. "
Andrew L. Urban

"Chiselling our emotions to the bone, The Bone Collector is a stylish, intelligent thriller that enthralls. You may forget to breathe occasionally, gasp a few times and clutch the edge of your seat; this gripping tale is a big story that embraces nuance, subtlety and detail. A taut screenplay with Phil Noyce's superb direction engulfs us in a claustrophobic world where determination forges destiny. Dean Semler's stunning night aerial shots are powerful, but not more so than the very tight close ups where the flicker of an eye can reduce us to tears. Denzel Washington is mesmerizing in the central role, trapped in a world for which no physicality exists; he conveys so much with so little. Washington has that IT factor, charisma plus extraordinary talent. Angelina Jolie (she of the luscious lips) is a tour de force, strong, vulnerable, human and courageous. An invisible ribbon connects these two, as surely as a ribbon embraces a gift. When Washington says 'I'm with you every step of the way', you believe him absolutely. Casting of Queen Latifah is an unexpected treat; she is the epitome of compassion and patience as she sits before an unsolved representative jigsaw. Also unexpected is the depth of performance from Married With Children's Ed O'Neill. The mood is intense, the haunting music with eerie, repetitive phrases adds greatly. As in films of this genre (like Silence of the Lambs), the horrors are mostly in the potent abyss of our imagination, rather than explicit violence. And that's the most powerful tool of all, where a hint of a suggestion can explode into a cavalcade of horrors. A combination of serial-killer thriller, love story, street cop and mystery, we are engulfed in a daze of mind games, brutalities and restraint. The symbolic bird of freedom sits outside on the window ledge and stretches its wings; inside the intensity of confinement and limitation is personified to the extreme. The Bone Collector is one hell of a film. Be there for the chills and the thrills."
Louise Keller

"There's a terrible sinking feeling when you're watching a murder mystery like this and a character walks on in the first 10 minutes and you think - "oh, hello here comes the killer" and nothing makes you question your choice before confirmation is finally made. Apart from the revelation being no surprise two hours later the film has to work doubly hard to hold the interest. The Bone Collector tries hard and thanks to a classy cast and smooth as silk direction from Phillip Noyce it manages to get by - just. I couldn't help thinking this might have worked better if we'd known who the killer was from the start and were left to concentrate more on the relationship and motivations of Rhyme and his reluctant apprentice Donaghy. After all, he's decided life's not worth living any more and is about to make "the final transition" with the help of a doctor friend while she's got plenty of emotional baggage worth investigating. They're an interesting duo with meaty back stories worth more attention than given while the manhunt takes place. Washington's authority and gentle charisma are put to good effect in the ultimate non-physical role while Jolie, looking more like her father Jon Voight with every film, gives a performance which will undoubtedly catapult her to star status. It's a pity characterisations aren't stronger to match Dean Semler's atmospheric photography of New York's abandoned railway lines and other menacing subterranean locations but formula imperatives seems to have surpassed more inventive telling of an intriguing tale."
Richard Kuipers

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See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

PHIL NOYCE & interview text of our LIVE CHAT




CAST: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, Mike McGlone, Luis Guzman, Leland Orser, John Benjamin Hickey and Ed O'Neill

DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce

PRODUCERS: Martin Bregman, Louis A Stoller

SCRIPT: Jeremy Iacone, based on the book by Jeffery Deaver


EDITOR: William Hoy

MUSIC: Craig Armstrong


RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 18, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: July 12, 2000 (Rental)

SELLTHROUGH: February 5, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home Entertainment

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