Where'd He Get Those Peepers?
The eyes have it. Denzel Washington’s eyes, that is. In The Bone Collector, a suspense thriller co-starring this acclaimed actor and gorgeous Angelina Jolie, Washington uses his mesmerizing orbs to project the intelligence and emotions of Lincoln Rhyme, a gifted quadriplegic detective.
“To play a person who is a quadriplegic is a great challenge for any actor,” Washington (Oscar winner for Glory) explains. “An actor’s body is his instrument, and to have 99 percent of that taken away, you have to sort of act with your soul. I mean, they say the eyes are the windows to the soul.”
Leading lady Jolie (Pushing Tin), who portrays a reluctant rookie cop chosen by Rhyme to assist him in catching a brutal serial killer, claims even her movements had to be restricted in her scenes with Washington. “I naturally didn’t touch his bed or move out of his eye line. And when he looks at you, he looks right through you. But I couldn’t turn away. . . I just had to stand there.”
Neither actor should worry about lack of physical movement here. They both express volumes through facial expressions and vocal inflections. Washington’s mere glance sideways at a bird perched on his window sill or upward at the falling rain telegraphs his pain and frustration. When Jolie’s character says to Rhyme, “How pathetic to use your condition to push me around,” her bitterness couldn’t be more clear if she stomped through the room. As respect and affection develop between these two kindred spirits, viewers come to care about each of them. And that makes the evil they encounter even more frightening.
Director Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger), who believes performances come first in moviemaking, says “When you’re making that your number one aim, that’s the cake, and the cinematic flourishes become the icing on the cake.” Mixing fine acting by Washington and Jolie, Noyce serves up a yummy cake indeed. Too bad his icing lacks one important ingredient --- a reasonable explanation of the killer’s diabolical actions.
Nevertheless, I admired Noyce’s cinematic flourishes. There are dazzling overhead shots of New York City, wonderful sound effects, and suspenseful (but gory) crime discovery scenes. In addition, some of the dialogue is quite witty, such as when the rebellious policewoman calls her boss “a living monument to ineptitude.”
Based on Jeffery Deaver’s best-selling novel, The Bone Collector is a mystery thriller in which performances overshadow puzzles. Still, it’s a movie definitely worth seeing, especially by fans of Washington and Jolie.
(Released by Universal Pictures/Columbia Pictures and rated “R” for strong language, violent content, and grisly images.)