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Film: The Bone Collector

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A thriller from 1999 (and first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series), the main characters are forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) and a patrol cop, Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), who team up to solve a string of murder cases in which the killer always removes a shard of bone from the victims.

The first victims are a couple named Alan and Lindsay Rubin who are kidnapped by the killer after taking a taxi home. Alan's body is found in a civil-war era gravel bed. A few pieces of evidence are recovered at the scene by the resourceful Donaghy, despite not having the training or equipment for proper forensic work; when they are presented to Rhyme for analysis he's so impressed that he insists she work the case with him.

For the Lincoln Rhyme book series, please go here: Lincoln Rhyme

This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Sachs in the book. Donaghy in the film.
  • Alone with the Psycho: An especially creepy version - alone with the psycho while paralyzed below the neck.
    • It's even creepier in the book, where the psycho was actually Rhyme's personal doctor.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Richard, the technician who works on Rhyme's life support machine.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Thelma's knack at solving jigsaw puzzles.
  • Creative Opening Credits: They display a series of vintage photographs, headlines, and newsprint from old New York, usually relating to unsolved mysteries, crime sprees, and Serial Killer activity. This is important.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The serial killer is noted for collecting bones from his victims.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: One of the first victims is basically steamed to death. Other victims would have met similarly cruel fates had they not been rescued, including being eaten by a swarm of rats.
  • Da Chief: Donaghy has one of these, of the strict and by-the-book variety; although he is absolutely right that she is in over her head and is being asked to do things that are dangerous, of questionable legality, or simply out of her jurisdiction, his overzealous attempts to interfere and even take her off the case only hinder the efforts to stop the killer. Of course, he pays for this in the end.
  • Death by Adaptation: Thelma (Queen Latifah); also several of the victims survive in the book but die in the film.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Rhyme has nearly crossed over his due to his paralysis; Donaghy gets him to care about living again, and to reach out to his sister at the end of the movie. Helps when you have to fight for your life against a Serial Killer.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Donaghy calls Rhyme out for this.
  • Enhance Button
  • Eureka Moment: A number of them, as is to be expected, but the identification of the image on the little pieces of paper as the company logo of a true crime book series and especially Donaghy realizing the clue left at the very last crime scene is Rhyme's own badge number take the cake.
  • Fair Cop: As Denzel notes with a nonverbal smirk in the movie, Jolie is quite hot. Justified, as she was a model before her cop father died.
  • Film Noir
  • Floating Head Syndrome
  • Fulton Street Folly
  • Gender Flip: Rhyme's caregiver. The book has Thom, a male nurse, the film has Queen Latifah.
  • Genius Cripple: Lincoln Rhyme, a genius quadraplegic.
  • GPS Evidence: All the evidence points to the location of the next victim. They cross-reference the evidence and are able to pinpoint the exact location somewhere in NYC.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: The GEICO Question guy (Michael Mc Glone) is one of the detectives working for Rhyme!
  • Iconic Item: The key chain which hangs off the rear view mirror of the killer's cab. It's never used to reveal his identity, only to let the audience know when someone has just become an incipient victim.
  • Infant Immortality: The final victims are a young girl and her grandfather. While the heroes fail to save the grandfather, they manage to save the girl.
  • Insufferable Genius: Lincoln Rhyme is brilliant and does seem to have a problem showing it off. He is rough and rude to just about everybody in the movie at some point.
  • It's Personal: The killer's reason for targeting Rhyme and doing the murders that attract his attention—he blames him for ruining his life, since he was a forensics expert and it was Rhyme testifying against his analysis in a case that ruined the killer's reputation. Also a case of Moral Myopia, since the killer doesn't seem to realize or care that if Rhyme hadn't said anything, and his mistaken analysis had been accepted as testimony, an innocent person would have been convicted and executed.
  • Jack the Ripoff
  • Life or Limb Decision: A variation — Rhyme tells Donaghy to cut a body's hand off rather than risk damaging the handcuffs which he wants to examine.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: The GPS Evidence listed above is this, since each 'package' Donaghy finds for them to analyze contains evidence which if properly identified will lead to the location of the next victim. Played with, however, in that each package also contains a small scrap of paper with part of a picture on it; if the pieces are put together, they can find the book of old true crime stories the killer was basing his murder spree on and thus take a shortcut in the list, potentially getting to a crime scene early enough to save the victim.
  • MacGyvering: A minor one. Donaghy needs to take a picture of evidence before it is destroyed or damaged, but the picture won't give any sense of scale to the object. So she puts a dollar bill next to it, giving it the required sense of scale, and causing Rhyme to become interested in her instincts.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Justified and deconstructed - Donaghy is a patrol cop with no forensics training beyond reading Rhyme's textbook on the subject, and she's only involved in the investigation at his insistence (he feels she has good instincts) and against her and her SO's objections. When Rhyme pushes her over the limit by ordering her to cut the hands off of a corpse, she storms off the scene.
  • Man Bites Man: Lincoln finishes off the killer this way. A [Crowning Moment Of Awesome] since Denzel's character was paralyzed from the neck down.
  • New York City Cops
  • New York Subway
  • Omniscient Database: Lincoln was said to have made one of these but it doesn't seem to appear or be used in the movie, except perhaps in the scenes where Donaghy is told to feed the information from the crime scene 'packages' into a computer.
  • Photographic Memory: Donaghy has this, making her invaluable to Rhyme at all the crime scenes. Becomes suspensefully relevant when she discovers a number on a subway car at the last crime scene and has to think back through a Montage of every number she'd previously seen in the movie, culminating with Rhyme's badge number.
  • Phone-In Detective
  • Plot Device: The book of true crimes which, if they find it, will let them get ahead of the killer and save his victims. Though they don't know they're looking for it until they solve the crime scene puzzle.
  • Race Against the Clock: To a point, Rhyme and Donaghy have to do this for all the killer's victims, trying to find them before he's committed his crimes, but this is especially intense during the searches for the first victim (after the one found dead by the railroad) who has to be freed before a timed steam release from an underground vent blasts her, and the last victims, who have to be found before they drown or die of exposure.
  • Race Lift: Rhyme is caucasian in the books.
  • Red Herring: During the scene when Donaghy goes to a used bookstore to find a copy of the book the killer was using as the basis for his crime spree, there's a rather creepy clerk who watches her with unusual intensity. It's played up as if he might be the killer, but of course he's not.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Donaghy's reaction when Rhyme tells her to cut the hand off the body of a woman she saw die not ten minutes previously.
  • Servile Snarker: Rhyme's caregiver in both book and film version.
  • Signature Style: The killer, aside from basing all his crimes on a turn-of-the-century Serial Killer, has a love of old things which shows up throughout the story—vintage weapons, old locations, old items (like handcuffs)...
  • Stillborn Franchise
  • Swarm of Rats: One of the victims ends up covered in rats.
  • 10-Minute Retirement
  • Title Drop: The book of true crimes on which the killer is basing his murders is called The Bone Collector too, by no coincidence.
  • Villain Ball: Pretty much how the killer meets his end. Instead of straight-out killing Rhyme, which shouldn't be too hard given the latter's paralyzed from the neck down, the guy goes into full-on bragging mode. This first leads to him getting his hand mangled when Rhyme is able to make the bed lower itself. Then Rhyme gets pulled down to the floor by the killer and you think he'd kill him at that point, right? Nope. Rhyme manages to lure him closer by mumbling, and takes a bite out of his neck. When the killer FINALLY does what he should have done to start with (to kill Rhyme), he's quickly gunned down by Amelia.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Rhyme's interaction with Donaghy in the field.
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