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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.35%
Worth A Look: 8.11%
Average: 6.76%
Pretty Bad: 35.14%
Total Crap48.65%

6 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Watcher, The
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by Erik Childress

"Stop the Music Video Directors"
1 stars

Thereís a class at a college somewhere in California, started many years ago by a film professor. Itís a class that studies and praises the acting of Keanu Reeves. It may sound like a sarcastic joke, but itís absolutely true. At the film school I attended, there were studies of the work of Charlie Chaplin, Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen. Does Keanu sound like he belongs in such a company as to have a 14-week course dedicated to his acting stylings? As in Hollywood, it seems many people mistake the ability to choose a good script with actual talent. Who will debate me (other than the professor) that Keanu essentially plays two different characters all the time (the cool dude and the action hero). Every now and then, heíll break out of that mold to take an ill-advised role in a period piece, and in the year 2000 heís decided to add some clay to that mold and take on the villainous character of a serial killer. Problem is, heís molding with Play-Doh.

Keanu isnít even the star of the film though. He finally gets the exclusive ďandĒ credit on the opening titles and posters; a credit usually reserved for big-time character actors or true moviestars taking a small role in a major picture. Top billing goes to James Spader as Keanuís foil, an appropriate casting decision as both of them exhibit the same amount of range. Spader plays former L.A. cop Joe Campbell. He relocates to Chicago after a more personal confrontation with his foe leaves him high blood pressure and migraines. David Allen Griffin (not Grier) is the foe and may win this yearís award for most boring serial killer. Basically a glorified stalker, Griffin has followed his favorite cop to the Windy City to play Beat the Clock games. He Fed-Exes pictures of his potential victims to Campbell, unaware that Joe is usually more sedated than Sunny Von Bulow and takes days, even weeks, to open his mail. He finally has to call Campbell to give him a deadline to find the face in each successive Fed Ex package. Taking the advice of his shrink, Polly (a very tired-looking Marisa Tomei), Campbell rises to the challenge, enlisting a task force of apparently every available cop in Chicago, to find the girls. Of course these scenes donít kick in until about the 25-minute mark and by then weíre pretty sedated too.

We seem to average about 5 or 6 serial killer movies a year now. And every one of them proposes to have that gimmick that separates itself from the usual dreck. In The Cell, we went into the killerís mind. The Bone Collector had its chief character bed-ridden all throughout. And now The Watcher, other than the Race Game mentality (used by countless films dating back nearly 30 years to Dirty Harry and then some), uses the cop and killer need each other psychology. If anyone involved with this project thought that was an original idea worth exploring, Iíd suggest they rent Michael Mannís 1995 thriller Heat, which examined that concept in length and gave us smart cops and smart robbers. The Watcher has neither. Even in the media age we live in, I can still accept that the victim wouldnít notice all the leaflets being handed out with her picture on it or the countless press conferences and news attention given to the case. But I have a hard time swallowing, and dare you not to laugh at the moment when thereís a dozen cops standing around looking at the girlís picture but never notice her walking onto and taking an elevator right behind them.

Suspense also seems to be a lost art in the wake of the video music director age as well. Even with lame characters and a lame script, a decent director can manufacture some suspense just by building a situation and placing all his Chess pieces in the right place. Director Joe Charbanic is not that decent director I speak of and whaddya know, he directs music videos. Even those moviegoers and film critics who hated Natural Born Killers will be welcoming that filmís stylistic vision after seeing how Charbanic handles his. Everytime we witness a flashback or get Griffinís point of view, the audience is subjected to a shaky, dark, out-of-focus camera approach that makes the Dogma 95 technique look like HDTV. Itís not cool. Itís not flashy. And itís certainly not stylistic. If you can make a better chase scene using a handheld home-based 8mm camcorder, you know youíre wasting your time watching The Watcher.

Stupid movies demand stupid questions. Like how can a cop with high blood pressure always look so sedated? If Spaderís ladyfriend was killed in his presence and then he moved away, why is she buried in Chicago? Why does Keanuís car suddenly turn into Christine and is able to withstand a self-started gasoline fire on the hood and drive away unscathed? Perhaps itís not fair to blame Keanu for such a mess. Reportedly he hates the final result so much that heís distancing himself from the project. I just donít see what he saw in the script or his character in the first place that made it stand out amidst the pile of scripts heís most likely sent every day. And thatís where his true talent lies, in his eye to (most of the time) pick out the original from the bad and Keanuís career can certainly be called balanced, if nothing. His best performance still remains in (the underappreciated) The Devilís Advocate. But for every Matrix thereís a Johnny Mnemonic. For every ďdudeĒ role (Bill & Ted films, Rivers Edge, Permanent Record, Parenthood) thereís a Keanu ďtrying to actĒ role (A Walk in the Clouds, My Own Private Idaho). For every good action film (Speed, Point Break), thereís a Chain Reaction. And of course thereís the holy trilogy of bad Keanu performances (Dangerous Liaisons, Bram Stokerís Dracula & Much Ado About Nothing). Sometimes the actor makes the movie, but the movie usually makes Keanu. A great movie can make anyone look good. A bad movie, like The Watcher, truly shows the warts. Now thereís something to study in that class.

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originally posted: 09/10/00 07:36:27
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User Comments

5/10/14 Captain pooper-scooper. Typos pop! Pop!! Pop!!!! Yaby an nigga be happy, you black chappy!!! Pig sweater. 4 stars
12/28/09 Juan Perez Keanu Reeves as a serial killer? Yes!! Awesome 5 stars
12/03/09 Jeff Wilder Mediocre. But not vomit inducing. 3 stars
7/06/09 Samantha Brennan A movie basically for the viewing eyes of people who love ignorant serial killers. 2 stars
12/21/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 1 stars
10/05/06 Charles Tatum Lackluster and kinda dumb, but good work from Spader 2 stars
8/18/05 ES car is covered completely in gasoline, only the top catches fire= sigh 1 stars
8/07/05 Charlene Javier What a bomb! 1 stars
1/19/04 LIAM JACKSON Griffin was a sick fuck who just killed and fucking killed for nothing. nice guy. 4 stars
1/10/04 kaz average movie with good cast = bad directing 3 stars
3/12/03 Blabity blah It tried so hard....and failed miserably. 1 stars
4/06/02 Caligula Caligula says: don't watch this garbage. 1 stars
10/02/01 Phoenix A total waste of time. 2 stars
7/11/01 seldom scene semi suspensful with no twists or hook 2 stars
6/07/01 Dean FBI agent with junk food in the refrigerator, haunted by killer. How unconventional... 2 stars
4/24/01 TigerDream it was....... sorta....... okay, i guess....... 3 stars
3/31/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Why, God?! WHY??!! 1 stars
3/27/01 Jesse L This is the first K.Reeves movie I did not like...IT STINKS 1 stars
3/25/01 Monster W. Kung One of the most pointless and trite movies to come out in the last decade. 1 stars
3/24/01 nowak Bad script. And Keanu is crap in any movie. 2 stars
3/23/01 TNT-6 Fucking sucks... dull, boring, and Keanu Reeves as a killer... laughable. 1 stars
3/11/01 Richard Wright First hour is riveting but the film suffers from a poor ending. A rewrite would've helped. 3 stars
3/04/01 Avenger Girl Pretty well done, a bit predictable though. Some attempt to make it visually exciting. 4 stars
1/09/01 Keanuette crap film, but KEANU did it as a favour and was ripped off! He's quite good in it though. 4 stars
10/28/00 Tdis72 Has to be the worst movie of the year. Reeves' worst performance ever. Sucked big time! 1 stars
10/08/00 Stuntman Like watching a badly done episode of that sissy Profiler cop show. Horrible. 1 stars
9/30/00 Zeitgeist typical hollywood sewage dished out to the masses 1 stars
9/23/00 Jacques Strap f**k Keanu and his mom... this movie blows 1 stars
9/17/00 JB Keanu is great in certain films, but not this one. Other actors were great. Especially COP. 1 stars
9/13/00 KAM suspenseful but pretty bad...poorly written and the movie looks like a music video 2 stars
9/12/00 Ground Zero Keany Reeves + bad movie = no-talent actor... Get a real job, hippie! 1 stars
9/11/00 **~**Persnickety**~** piece of shit says it all 1 stars
9/11/00 maclay01 This movie had a visceral feel that was washed out by the soundtrack - Entertaining 4 stars
9/10/00 Zeitgeist the kind of movie you forget all about 10 minutes after viewing it 2 stars
9/10/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble The movie guys in Hollywood must hate women something terrible, to make a movie like this! 1 stars
9/10/00 malcolm OK, nothing new 3 stars
9/06/00 Chris Clark Good flick - Keanu plays a good villain 4 stars
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  08-Sep-2000 (R)


  01-Mar-2001 (M)

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