Stranger Things Have Happened
Does one remember the naughties, when serial killers walk the Earth, before being wiped out by the triple meteor of vampires/super heroes/zombies? Well, they were quite the shit, that lot, after Seven and The Silence of the Lambs or, should one respect chronology, Manhunter blossomed onscreen. It quickly went downhill after those three, spawning absurdities like 10+ seasons of Criminal Minds and basically most of the thriller genre clichés. Still, some of their strange fruits were brought quite near to ripeness, including this one.
Considering, as it is a rule here, that everyone reading this blog have seen it or might experience a pleasant surprise either enjoying or deriding the movie, one will not recap much of the action (this is reserved for very, very bad oldies). Just know that Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington, good as good can be even though, or because, he’s basically a talking head) a quadriplegic forensic expert, teams with rookie Amelia Dinghy (Angelina Jolie, better at expressing rebellion than emotion at that early stage of her career) to solve a puzzle created by the titular vicious killer, even though no one calls him such during the movie and he’s not really collecting bones. Oh well.
Queen Latifah does a terrific job at incarnating beloved nurse Thelma. Watch her doing nothing but receiving information but oh so well. Lord, the woman is gifted. She swallows the scenes she has nothing to do into, only acting normal and empathetic. If a movie has to be judged by the characters it creates, her performance only is worth your time. She meets a gruesome and undignified end, though, considering she’s black and stuff. Fat, one thinks is the word. One has a secret version of the movie in which the villain is killed when Thelma saves the day, and one thinks it’s a better version because it would spare us a corny ending which does all it can to ruin everything that preceded it. And that’s too bad, because what preceded is far from bad.
Incongruously enshrined in a majestic Craig Armstrong score, The Bone Collector is visually fluid, courtesy of Phillip Noyce, its director. Grue, more left to the imagination than depicted, is vague but merciless. The wagon loses its wheels around the 1:30 mark, because time is not kind to technology and/or twist endings, and there is this embarrassing Christmas finale that no serial killer movie of one’s knowledge has ever attempted, and never will again, one hopes. No one wants a thriller to end like The Cosby Show, with a tie in lieu of a sweater.
As usual, if one takes the killer’s point of view and rewinds, it’s all smoke and mirrors and the writing does not hold water. But still, the thing is quite good for 90mn, and that is more that one can say of most movies of the same vein. And casting a quadriplegic black hero with a great black nurse in the same movie is no small achievement. Think talent, no quotas. Feels good.