As Denzel movies go, 1999’s Bone Collector (with Angelina Jolie) was not a particularly good Denzel movie, although his presence alone made the film better than 68 percent of all other 1999 films, the 28 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes notwithstanding (what Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t understand about Denzel could fill an entire goddamn stadium).
And yet, the mediocrity of the 1999 film based on the Jeffrey Deaver character makes the 2020 television iteration of the character look like Virtuosity, comparatively speaking (Virtuosity is the only objectively bad film in Denzel’s filmography, a movie so terrible that not even Denzel’s presence could salvage it). Mind you, it’s not the fault of Russell Hornsby, who fills Denzel’s shoes in the role of Lincoln Rhyme, a detective’s name so horrible that only Denzel and Hornsby could pull it off. I mean, look: If you can’t get Denzel, there are only two acceptable substitutes: his son, John David Washington, and Hornsby, who should’ve gotten an Oscar for a single look of disapproval he gave in last year’s The Hate U Give (he’s also very good in Seven Seconds with Regina King, a television show with more talent than most Americans deserve to watch on one screen). Meanwhile, Amelia Sachs, in the Angelina Jolie role, is played by Arielle Kebbel, who — no offense — looks like the television version of Jolie, which is to say: If everything interesting about Angelina Jolie had been removed by a machine controlled by focus tests you’d get Arielle Kebbel, who looks like the female protagonist in the commercial for every Blumhouse horror film you’ve never seen.
NBC’s Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, meanwhile, is exactly what you’d expect from a popular detective series crammed into a network procedural and relegated to Friday nights. It’s bland. It’s like a serial killer detective drama on training wheels that still manages to stumble and fall every four feet. Hornsby plays Lincoln Rhyme, a detective in search of the Bone Collector serial killer and who — in the pilot’s opening sequence — is paralyzed from the waist down when he gets too close to his target.
Cut to three years later, and Lincoln is bed-ridden, where he spends much of his day playing video games over the Internet with his son, who lives on the other coast now. Meanwhile, Amelia Sachs is a cop working subway stations when she runs across an elaborate crime scene and nearly sacrifices her life to preserve it when she stands in front of a subway train. This dedication to the sanctity of a crime scene earns Sachs the respect of Rhyme, and she eventually becomes his eyes and ears — she investigates crime scenes wearing a body camera while he analyzes those scenes from his bed with his keen knowledge of New York.
There’s a lot going on in the pilot — three murders, three investigations! — but I assure you that none of it is particularly interesting. It’s a sanitized procedural, and even Rhyme — who is supposed to be salty and difficult to work with — barely rises to the level of occasionally rude, lest he alienate potential viewers. “I’ve been told I’m not the easiest person to work with,” he says with a wink and a smile. It’s a bad show, as one might expect from a serial-killer series constrained by NBC in its depictions of violence or its use of language, but it’s made even worse by a lot of the decisions made by Seth Gordon who — as the director of Horrible Bosses — is not exactly a natural fit for a serial-killer drama. It’s limp and uninspired, and there is no reason to bother, but to its credit, it is still better than Virtuosity.
Header Image Source: NBC