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Overall Rating
1.78

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 EricDSnider

"Keanu Reeves botches another one."
2 stars

"The Watcher" is a passable, reasonably good serial-killer movie. It has a few clever ideas and some suspenseful moments. There's really not too much wrong with it.

No, wait. Make all those statements conditional: It WOULD BE passable, it WOULD HAVE some suspenseful moments, there's WOULDN'T BE too much wrong with it -- all if Keanu Reeves HADN'T BEEN cast as the serial killer.

He is nearly the only thing wrong with "The Watcher," a movie that may not be too different from the thousand or so other serial-killer movies of the last 20 years, but which nonetheless could have been pretty decent for its genre. But Keanu is a man who can barely play regular people convincingly; as a psychotic cold-blooded, cat-and-mouse-game killer, he is extraordinarily unmenacing, unbelievably and even laughably Keanu-esque.

I don't know what first-time director Joe Charbanic could have been thinking, except that he directed music videos for Keanu's band, Dogstar, and decided hey, why not put him in this movie he's doing?

Please understand that while I am among the critics who think Keanu is not a very good actor, that doesn't mean I won't give him a fair chance. I was intrigued by the idea of him playing a bad guy; maybe this will be his break-through performance, where he finally connects with his character and gives audiences something to enjoy about him other than his doofy smile and surfer-boy speaking voice.

But no. Doofy smile and surfer-boy speaking voice are firmly in place here -- or, more accurately, firmly OUT of place here, keeping you from taking him seriously as a killer for even one second.

It doesn't help that David Elliot and Clay Ayers's screenplay gives us nothing about who his character, David Allen Griffin, is. But there is a little something there -- some hints about his psychological dependence on FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) chasing him as though the two had a "relationship" -- and other actors have made serial killers eerie and threatening with even less character development than that. (See Kevin Spacey in "Seven.") Keanu takes the morsels of personality the script gives him and ignores them.

So what's good about the movie? Pretty much everything else. Campbell chased Griffin in L.A. for 3 1/2 years before tragically failing to catch him and allowing someone important to him on a personal level fall victim. He had a breakdown and is on disability now, taking pills right and left to relieve migraines, and seeing a therapist (Marisa Tomei).

He's also moved to Chicago -- where, creepily enough, Griffin has followed him. Seems the killing just wasn't fun in L.A. without Campbell on the case, so even though Campbell is retired, Griffin is going to drag him back into it. This he does by FedEx-ing photos of random young, single women to Campbell, with the warning that he and the cops have until 9 p.m. to figure out who the woman is and get to her before Griffin does.

That's an intriguing concept for a movie, especially when one of the chosen victims is a pan-handling homeless woman. People in the big city pay little attention to each other as it is; how much harder is it to find a woman with whom people intentionally avoid eye-contact?

Spader, who usually plays heavies, does fine as the good guy here. He's not heroic in the traditional sense -- he has so many medical and psychological flaws -- but he has a nice-guy, youthful look about him that should allow him to play roles like this more often. Chris Ellis as Chicago PD boss Hollis serves nicely, too, for once helping the FBI guy with the case, rather than being an antagonist (which is how these movies usually work).

Granted, Keanu aside, the whole thing does have a "made for USA Network" feel about it, with rather low production values and a number of cliches and a few introduced-then-abandoned possible plot avenues. (By the end of the film Campbell has mysteriously stopped taking his medication, with no tapering off at all.) But it all could have been a reasonable way to spend 90 minutes, being mildly thrilled and mostly entertained. All except for Keanu, who, simply put, ruins any scene he's in. It's a fine killer-movie concept that, back to the conditional, COULD HAVE BEEN great, were it not for some horrible mis-casting.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4462&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/07/03 12:36:25
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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
7/30/13 PAUL SHORTT CLICHED, SHALLOW AND FORMULAIC 1 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Sep-2000 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Mar-2001 (M)




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