Directed By: Mario Azzopardi.
Written By: Thomas E. Szollosi.

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Barbara Williams, R.H. Thomson, Joseph Kell.

Novelist and former chief medical examiner of Chicago, William Palmer (Rutger Hauer) is celebrating the release of his latest book "Bone Daddy", a fictionalized account of the reign of a serial killer notorious for cutting the bones out of his victims. In real life "Bone Daddy" was never caught, but in Palmer's story he is brought to justice. This greatly angers the real killer, who begins murdering once again, starting with Palmer's book agent. Palmer uses his connections with the Chicago P.D. to get assigned to the case as a consultant and begins trying to solve a gruesome mystery with much of the evidence suggesting that the killer is Palmer's own son.

A thriller in the vein of Silence Of The Lambs, Bone Daddy is a solid if mediocre movie that aspires to be virtually nothing more than what it is, a simple, by the numbers murder mystery. The film is an exercise in formula, so much so that it almost feels like parody. With Bone Daddy we have many familiar staples including the retired cop with a shattered past, the brilliant killer that is his nemesis, the attractive female love interest, and the obligatory group of red herrings who are there to throw off the viewer.

Other old favorites found in BD include the comparison between the hero and the villain, the revealing clue in plain sight, and even the tired old phone conversation between the hero and villain, complete with that electronically distorted voice that all anonymous maniacs seem to favor.

While the film is extremely corny and predictable, it is competently made and offers solid production values all around. The performances are nothing to write home about, but they aren't bad either. They, much like Bone Daddy itself, are just kind of there.

The movie reminded me a lot of Clint Eastwood's Blood Work, which while perhaps is an inferior movie, stands out more thanks to some silly scenes and a more ludicrous plot. Blood Work also has a better cast, with both a more compelling hero and villain. That's not to say that Hauer does a bad job, it's just that I doubt there's anyone on Earth who can play grizzled quite as well as "Dirty Harry".

I said earlier that the film is predictable, and it is, but not predictable enough that I was able to successfully figure out who the killer was. For people who have watched a lot of mysteries, it should be quite easy, but for movie watchers as clueless as myself these films will always prove to be a challenge. Indeed, I spent much of the climax of Spider-Man glued to the edge of my seat. "Who will win, Spiderman or the Green Goblin!? I must know!".

I enjoyed my time with Bone Daddy. The movie is bland and markedly unexceptional, but if you enjoyed the aforementioned Blood Work or Christopher Nolan's stellar Insomnia, then there's a good chance that you'll also like Bone Daddy. It is in-between those two pictures that Bone Daddy exists. Blood Work is goofy fun, Insomnia a finely crafted film, and Bone Daddy, well, Bone Daddy is just an average movie. Which, to people who love movies, isn't that bad of a thing to be.

Vhs Caveman, 11/25/05)


Rutger Hauer has made a fairly smooth transition from the youthful roles he once played to the more mature part he plays in Bone Daddy. If anything, his role as Chicago's former chief medical examiner exaggerates Hauer's actual ageing. He plays William Palmer, now a successful novelist, whose latest book is a fictionalised account of a real mass murderer. Palmer's book tells of a killer who delivered his victims' bones as gifts to the authorities. In the book, Bone Daddy is caught, proving to be another of Chicago's medical examiners. In reality, the killer was never discovered, and Palmer later left his job to start a writing career.

Shortly after its release, Palmer's book inspires the killer to get back into business, and this time he's aiming his messages squarely at Palmer. The bones that arrive as gifts have been removed from the still-living body of Palmer's literary agent, and are wrapped in pages torn from his book. We're treated to several scenes showing the victim being slowly transformed into an invertebrate -- not a pretty site.

Palmer visits his old pals at the police department and is promptly put on the case, partnered with an appropriately spunky woman cop. There are a couple of obvious suspects, and the first of this film's faults is that these potential killer-carver candidates are just too obvious and no other possibilities are offered to us. So, we know the killer is either too obvious or someone we'd never imagine as a suspect. What's the fun in that?

In addition to the inelegant handling of the central mystery, Bone Daddy suffers from over-acting by just about everyone other than Hauer, whose performance is reasonably good. Without a suspenseful build up and a satisfying conclusion, this film is missing almost as much as Bone Daddy's victims.

Brian Webster