The Bone Collector is a 1999 drama-mystery-thriller film
starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. The movie was
based on a crime novel written by Jeffery Deaver, concerning the
quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme. It was the first book of
the Lincoln Rhyme series.
An ex-forensics expert who was injured in an accident, and now is
paralyzed, Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) and a patrol cop,
Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), team up to solve a string of
murders all connected to a serial killer by his signature: a
single shard of bone is removed from each of the victims. Rhyme
is bed-ridden, but communicates with Amelia via phone as she
examines the various crime scenes and collects evidence and
reports back to him. Lincoln is completely oblivious to Amelia's
extraordinary good looks - they operate on a purely professional
level, and Lincoln's almost morbid fascination in her is based on
her professionalism and 'knack' for crime solving.
The killer poses as a New York taxi driver, and abducts and kills
those who get in his taxi. The first two victims are a married
couple named Alan and Lindsay Rubin, who get a taxi home but then
find themselves kidnapped by the killer. Amelia finds Alan's body
buried in a Civil War-era railroad bed. She also finds a piece of
shellfish, which eventually leads Amelia - working with Rhyme -
to Alan's wife, and a scrap of paper. The detectives find Mrs.
Rubin, too late, at a steam junction in a below ground services
area of a building in the financial district, secured using old
handcuffs or shackles at the mouth of a pipe which emits steam.
She has been scalded to death from the steam. The killer has also
removed a bit of flesh and bone from her arm. Amelia finds
another scrap of paper at the scene.
The killer then abducts an NYU student. He is taken to a derelict
slaughterhouse where he is tied to a pole and gutted with a
knife, and left for rats to feed on. Amelia and Rhyme, using the
clue left by the killer at the scene of Lindsay Rubin's death
(rat hairs embedded in a bone from a cow's body), find the
victim, but again too late to save him. Again, the killer has
removed a piece of the victim's bone. Amelia is able to collect
the evidence, including another scrap of paper. The pressure of
the tense investigation and bureaucratic challenges to both
Amelia's and Rhyme's involvement with the case are having serious
impacts on Rhyme's health and stability.
After piecing together the message the killer was sending using
the scraps of paper, Amelia and Rhyme are led to an old book of
short stories, which in turn leads them to the killer's next
victims, a grandfather and granddaughter tied to a pier as the
tide rises. The girl is rescued, but her grandfather dies. At the
scene, Amelia finds another bone, an old police badge, and an old
subway map. These clues, and an earlier clue left by the killer
at the scene of Mrs Rubin's death (asbestos) lead Amelia to an
abandoned subway station, in which Amelia sees some numbers which
have been tampered with to spell out Rhyme's police badge number.
Amelia then figures out that the bone collector is after Rhyme.
The bone collector arrives at Rhyme's house, and after killing
Rhyme's nurse Thelma (Queen Latifah) and Captain Howard Cheney
(Michael Rooker) it is revealed that he is the medical technician
who cares for Rhyme's medical equipment. The technician, Richard
Thompson (Leland Orser), is an ex-forensic cop who wants revenge
because in the past, Rhyme's testimony helped convict the killer
of planting false evidence at crime scenes. The result is that
Richard was brutalized in prison and his life ruined. Despite the
helpless state he is in, Rhyme manages to jam Richard's hand by
flapping his bed horizontal, and in struggle to free himself,
Richard pulls Rhyme with him and they both collapse to the floor.
Rhyme then manages to bite Richard in the neck, causing massive
bleeding (in fact, in the novel, Rhyme kills him by severing his
spinal cord). Richard once again manages to free himself,
grabbing a large knife and about to end Rhyme's life, Amelia
suddenly arrives at the apartment with a gun, killing him before
he has a chance to deliver the fatal stab.
The film ends at a Christmas celebration at Rhyme's apartment.
Rhyme, having given up his plans to end his life by suicide,
faces his sister and niece coming to visit him along with Amelia,
Dr. Barry Lehman (John Benjamin Hickey), Kenny Solomon (Mike
McGlone), Paulie Sellitto (Ed O'Neill) and his family, Eddie
Ortiz (Luis Guzman) and his mother, and Lincoln's new nurse.