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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Soulless junk."
1 stars

If serial killers hadn't already existed, Hollywood screenwriters would have had to invent them; as it is, there have probably been more serial-killer movies in the last ten years than there have been actual serial killers in the last century. The late, lamented Gene Siskel had grown bored to tears with S-K thrillers in recent years, and I wish he were still around to bash new entries like 'The Cell' and now 'The Watcher' -- two of the worst films ever to open at #1 at the box office.

In a way, movies that announce their awfulness in the first five minutes, as The Watcher does, are preferable to films that begin well and sadly go south: At least you've had fair warning. The Watcher was directed by one Joe Charbanic, whose resumé includes videos for Keanu Reeves' rock band Dogstar; Charbanic wastes no time getting nostalgic for his roots, zapping us with a nonsensical montage of Keanu (as the movie's serial killer) cavorting around to the beat of Rob Zombie's "Dragula" (the music buys the movie unearned association with a better Keanu movie, The Matrix, which featured the same song).

Most of the movie's remainder is little better, and I was offended to hear a snippet of Portishead -- a sumptuous, moody sound that belongs miles away from The Watcher -- adorning a dull scene between burned-out FBI cop James Spader and his shrink Marisa Tomei. (Marisa Tomei as a psychiatrist? Let that sink in.) Spader and Reeves have a history: Spader spent three years trying to catch Reeves, whose modus operandi is to spy on young women and then kill them. The frazzled, migraine-plagued Spader moved to Chicago; now Reeves has followed him there and begun his killings anew, because every Moriarty needs a Sherlock, right?

James Spader is more or less responsible for my losing 97 minutes of my life to this movie, since he was the main reason I bothered with it, but I can't be too mad at him. Given a kindergarten-level script (by David Elliot and Clay Ayers), Spader does the best he can, bringing gut-level intensity and gravity to his scenes. Still, if you dump a load of manure on a butterfly, you can't expect it to fly very well, and after a while Spader wriggles around in this muck despite his hardest efforts to maintain some personal dignity. Marisa Tomei is here only to give Reeves a star to kidnap (as opposed to the no-name actresses he slaughters, who apparently don't mean as much). Keanu, as other reviewers have noted, is Keanu -- a blank slate on which talented filmmakers can sometimes draw. No such doodling here.

Where does The Watcher cross the line? Is it in its utter serial-killer-template approach to its story? (I mean, for once let's see a serial killer who doesn't spout one-liners or devise elaborate schemes to trap his prey.) Is it in such ridiculous scenes as the one in which Keanu drives his car through some gas tanks and tosses a lighter, incinerating everything in the area except his gas-soaked car? Is it in the pompous style of the film (Keanu presumably has a vision problem -- his point of view is always shot on digital video)? Is it in the clichéd writing of the Spader character, whose unenviable quality of living is underscored by the familiar empty fridge?

Well, it's all of that and one thing more. Perhaps it's that I'm getting older, or maybe I'm just tired of serial-killer movies (whose victims tend to be female exclusively), but if I never see another scene in which a woman is bound and gagged, terrified and knowing she's going to die, while her killer struts around the room basking in his own psychotic cleverness, I won't mind a bit. One depiction of murder in The Watcher struck me as morally repugnant -- the killing of a homeless young woman, reduced to a rock-video shorthand of brutality.

The losses of life are meaningless, just beats in a screenplay without rhythm. I would rather have seen a ten-second synopsis of 'The Watcher' -- "Here's Keanu. He's bad. Here's Spader. He's good. Good eventually defeats bad. Have a nice day" -- than sit through it at 97-minute length.

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originally posted: 12/30/06 15:57:16
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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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