Neither really here nor there -- just something to fill in the gaps in between actually worthwhile Hollywood products.Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot to be said for The Watcher, a really lackluster serial-killer thriller that throws so many old, moth-infested hats into the ring that it never materializes into something even remotely fresh, reminding you instead of countless Better Movies Past productions. And it's quite the shame, because there's indeed some quality talent here wasted on a screenplay of stupefying obviousness. James Spader stars as an FBI agent voluntarily relocated to Chicago from Los Angeles after his failure to catch a notorious killer after a three-year stint resulted in the death of a woman close to him; conscience-striken, he's taken a leave of absence and wiles the days away in his sparsely-decorated apartment popping anti-depressants like they were candy mints when he's not undergoing therapy with psychiatrist Marisa Tomei. But he's pulled back into action when arch-nemesis Keanu Reeves resurfaces and taunts him with photographs of the attractive young women he's targeted; he gives a full day to find them before gruesomely doing away with them. Soon, both the Feds and city police are thrown into a frenzy running down leads off the photos distributed on the streets and aired on television. For the killer, the real enjoyment comes from toying with the Fed -- in his sick mind, the "game" between them is just as pleasurable as the killing itself. Of course, the hunted becoming the hunter is far from original, and the two main performances are inadequate: Spader too stodgily underplays; Reeves lacks the frightful villainous force he superbly summoned in The Gift. So with the leaky psychological dynamics in this who-cares conflict practically dripping off the celluloid, there's egregious emotional depth and stale plotting in that we're mostly ahead of the telegraphed surprises a good zip code away. Don't blame debuting-director Joe Charbanic, though. For someone from a music-video background, his visual eye is unsurprisingly good (also helping is the contribution of ace cinematographer Michael Chapman), yet it's never harried or overedited in the frenzied Michael Bay vein. The chase sequences boast lucid spatial logistics so you know where the hero is in relation to the villain, and there's a dandy nighttime gas-station explosion that's breathtakingly staged. Charbanic can't really do anything about the lack of nerve-jangling tension because of too many dead spots constantly stalling out the narrative drive. And the function of the Tomei character is really trite: you just know she's eventually going to be put in danger for lack of something even remotely resembling a tantalizing idea. The Watcher isn't painful to watch, mind you, but there's never really any time that it genuinely gets its grip on you the way any workable thriller should. For all its overall mediocrity, it'd have been better off feinting a few left hooks rather than relying on its cliche-ridden self to strike down-the-middle blows that end up having about as much oomph as a limp noodle.Rent "Se7en" instead. Please.