Ossus Library Index Thriller Index


Directed by Phillip Noyce (1999, Universal Pictures)
Starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifah

A murderer leaves clues as to his next victim. Two police officers, one a quadraplegic, try to solve the puzzle before losing another victim.



3 stars

November 14th, 1999 in the Theatre  

Definitely a thriller, and quite exciting at that, the movie was quite by-the-numbers.  Very enjoyable, it kept my interest all the way through.  However, nothing really ever went wrong for the lead characters, except that they kept showing up too late.  It was neat to see the way they thought, and the way they were able to deduce what was going to happen, and when and where, and often even how! 

Unfortunately, there's not much else to say about the movie.  Like I said, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it was nothing like the movies it was compared to- Silence of the Lambs, and (though I've never seen it) Seven.  Washington's character didn't learn much, or grow much through the picture.  We just saw his genius.  Jolie's character did grow, but only from not-interested-in-forensics to very-good-forensics-cop.  There was none of the soul-searching that Jodie Foster's character had to go through in Lambs.

The murderer took his victims on an out-of-control cab ride in New York City, to a destination they didn't pick out on their own.  One ends up buried under an old, turn of the century railway yard, one gets burned to death by a steam pipe, and so on.  But at every scene of the crime, he leaves some information about the next one he plans to commit.  This is some rat hair (for the most disgusting death -eaten alive), a scrap of paper, some ground shells, bones (hence the title), or other scraps. 

Jolie's character has a gift.  She stopped a train to pervent it from disturbing a crime scene.  She notices all the evidence, which her captain does not, and has been missing at other crime scenes now for about a year. 

Washington's character directs the search, and Jolie's development from his bed.  He had the neatest gadgetry, his mouth and one finger controlled everything, from the phone to the bed angle, to the scanner and computer database. 

But I found he leapt to conclusions too fast.  Sure, his brain worked faster than everybody else's, but when given the choice between 1898, 1906 and 1910, he chooses the oldest, simply because the murderer prefers old.  All of them are old, to me.  It seemed arbitrary. 

Jolie's character indicates that she's growing into a good forensic cop, even to the point where she defies the captain, a really annoying character, who pulls them off the job for absolutely no reason, except maybe jealousy.  But if he didn't do that, the apartment wouldn't have been empty for the final battle.  However, the victims aren't real people to her.  "One is dead" she says at one point, "but at least the other survived."  I think even fairly experienced cops would feel sick seeing so many murders.  Sure, she should pick herself up and continue the job, but we should see more of what she felt.  Washington's character even asks her what she felt at one point.  We don't get enough of that. 

I thought Jolie was really good at the part she played.  She was in Playing by Heart last year, and I think I remember enjoying her performance there, too.  She's cute, too!  I'd like to see her on the screen more.  Washington was his usual self -superb.  And I loved Queen Latifah's nurse.  I can't forgive the story for what they did to her.  But I guess they had to.

  This was more of a puzzle solving film than anything else.  Even if they drew conclusions too quickly, it was still fun to puzzle along with them.  It was an enjoyable couple of hours.


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