Film Review: The Bone Collector

I was captivated the first time I ever saw The Bone Collector. So much so, that I actually spent time looking, hoping, it was possible to get hold of a copy of the book used. Not the novel on which the film is based, but rather the book that appears on screen. Sadly though, the book is just a prop, but that didn’t lessen the impact of the film. In fact, I’d go as far to as say that The Bone Collector was the first film that truly grabbed me.

I really do rank it as one of my all time favourite films, I just have a love of psychological thrillers, those dark sinister tales that aren’t true horrors, with in your face blood and violence, but rather simmer away, niggling inside your mind, playing on basic fears. The power of scaring through the unknown, through panic anxiety and suspense.

Denzel Washington & Angelina Jolie - The Bone Collector

While the film may be a little simple, a cat and mouse chase that ultimately draws to an unsatisfactory conclusion with a plot twist that doesn’t make much sense, actually serveing to really break the dark foreboding tension the rest of the film has created, you have to accept that it’s main cast – Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington – hold everything together with a see-sawing performance that balances perfectly in motion.

Denzel Washington is obviously the main focus, and has arguably both the hardest and easiest role to play. He just has to lie there. But that means every traditional acting tool is taken away from him, and so for his performance to be so strong and convincing; to make you actually believe that he truly is a paraplegic, and suffers from the mental depression that situation forces upon him, is testament to his skill. Sadly though I just don’t really buy into his character as a person. I never quite fully believe in him.

I am, however, inclined to say that this is Jolie’s best performance for me. It comes at a time in her career when she is young enough to have the natural talent still developing, but experienced enough to know how to act. This means that she looks the part without there ever being a sense of Hollywood “superstar” that has dogged her later roles. She brings physical feminine fragility to complete mental strength and resolve in a way that means you instantly side with her and believe in her. You feel her pain when she hurts, her panic when she’s scared and her elation when she’s right.

Technology - The Bone Collector

Also, the film hasn’t really dated which surprised me. There is a lot of “technology” on show and so the potential to look out of place, to feel old fashion was high and yet it never does. It almost felt right, and that slight sense of retro just somehow adds to the darkness of the film. It helps slow the pace of the film and heighten the emotions. It’s just another tool, like most of the action happening at night, or it constantly raining, that makes everything seem to encroach just that little bit too much, to make you feel compressed and squeezed and slightly uneasy.

I adore The Bone Collector because it really does just get under your skin. It makes you feel edgy and slightly nervous. I’ve watched it numerous times, I know what happens, I know the sequence, and yet it still got my heart racing. It’s Jolie and Washington that cause this, they really are that good, and in fact, the tone and performances work so well together that they actually manage to paper over the issues there are with the plot, the narrative direction and the last 20 minutes. It’s a wonderful pairing of puppet and master interwoven into the story.

Rotten Tomatoes - The Bone Collector

I know my love and admiration for the film places me into a minority. You just have to look at the average rating on Rotten Tomatoes (28% at the time of writing) to see just how much my praise seems wildly at odds with the majority, but I don’t care. The Bone Collector is a film I love and a film that brought suspense and psychology into my life. And the fact that it can still excite me, scare me, and make me question getting into a taxi after all these years, is proof that when you find a film you connect to, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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