1999 / Director. Phillip Noyce.
The mid to late 90s were riddled with gruesome serial killer/detective films, each riding the coat-tails of SE7EN. A lot were pretty bad and some were fairly decent but none were able to recapture Seven's example. The Bone Collector was one of the decent ones but it was poorly received at the time. It's been almost 15 years since its release and time has served it well. I watched it again last night and my impression of it has changed. Instead of thinking "oh here's another Seven clone" I was fully engaged by it's concepts and themes and thought it to be a really solid film. Denzel Washington plays a crime scene investigator who became a quadriplegic after an on-the-job accident and is kept alive by machines and a round-the-clock nurse. A new serial killer announces himself and a low-level rookie cop (Angelina Jolie) is first on scene. She displays a natural flare for forensics and she soon finds herself working directly on the case. She ventures into the crime scenes while being guided by Washington via radio. The crimes are gruesome & creative and the tone of the film is suitably dank and grimy. The red herrings are clever, although at times they seem convenient and forced but they don't detract from the overall quality. Washington is rock solid, delivering a performance using only his facial expressions. Jolie is also strong and they are supported by a strong cast including Ed O'Neil, Michael Rooker and Queen Latifah. The film's strength is its lack of CGI. It's a simple and practical film relying on tension and atmosphere, which has given it a longevity that other movies of its kind have suffered from. The film is based on a best selling novel which also has 9 sequels, each involving the Washington & Jolie characters. I wonder if it's too late for a movie sequel? The Bone Collector was a nice surprise.