The Bone Collector -- **1/2 (out of 5)   (1999)

Cast: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker

Directed By Phillip Noyce

Perhaps the biggest problem with the faceless killer gimmick is that when you finally see who the perpetrator is, more often than not  the revelation sinks the film from being effective to laughably ludicrous. THE BONE COLLECTOR is no exception.

The plot deals with a quadriplegic forensic expert who tries to solve a series of grizzly murders while in constant contact with a female cop who acts as his eyes and ears for the crime scene. The murderer leaves a series of clues which form a pattern to the murders but always seems just a step ahead of the law.

There's no doubt Denzel Washington is a fine actor. It's too bad he just can't seem to pick cop films that are any good. THE MIGHTY QUINN, RICOCHET, VIRTUOSITY, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, FALLEN, and THE SIEGE rank among his least significant or memorable movies in his distinguished career. THE BONE COLLECTOR is the latest in his long series of police thriller mediocrity.  The only exception to this rule has been TRAINING DAY.

As a film, THE BONE COLLECTOR owes much to SEVEN for much of its style and content. Both films feature a genius of a sadistic killer who leaves interrelated clues in a gothic manner where we don't see the killer's identity until well into the film. THE BONE COLLECTOR is effective in its style as dictated by director Phillip Noyce, who is probably the sole reason the film maintains interest for most of the way. What ultimately lets the film down is the hammy and overblown revelation of the killer and the subsequent explanations for the reasons why.

People in the mood for an interesting thriller may find THE BONE COLLECTOR a passable diversion, but few will be able to look past the manipulative plot full of holes and the painfully bad ending to deem it a good film.

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