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D+
Directed by Joe Charbanic
Running Time: 1:37
Rated R for violence and language.

The Watcher started out badly, got a little better as it moved along, then ended badly. I didn't go in expecting much, and I didn't get much. Some ugly visuals, a real horrible fire special effect near the end, and the usual bang-up acting job from Keanu Reeves (along with a wierd unsettling dance both in the beginning and at the end).

James Spader plays FBI agent Joel Campbell. As an aside, I have never liked James Spader as an actor. But I digress. In Los Angeles, Campbell was hot on the chase of a serial killer named David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves). He couldn't catch him, something traumatic happened to Campbell, so he jets for Chicago. Soon, Griffin follows him there, and continues his bizarre cat and mouse game with Campbell. Griffin has some sort of strange affection for Campbell, so to make it sporting, he's going to send a picture of his next victim, and give Campbell one day to find her. Does Campbell ever catch Griffin? How many women have to die before he does? Does no on in Chicago watch TV? And if a man leaves no evidence behind at a crime scene, how do you know who did it? These questions and more might be answered if you go see The Watcher.

So the beginning reminded me of a bad Showtime movie that they know is so bad they only show it at 2am. Set up the drug addled reluctant cop, the dark scenes, the serial killer with a playful side. Throw in some rock music (at least I like Rob Zombie), add some wierd looking camera work that makes porno films look like they were directed by Spielberg, and you have your beginning. Then suddenly the drug addled reluctant cop turns right around and joins the hunt. This is where the movie picked up. I enjoyed the thinking and police work that went into finding the killer. It all just moved very quickly. And there wasn't really any reason given for Griffin's killings, other than he liked Campbell. No reason for why he started killing, nothing of that nature. So really, the whole point of the movie... well there really wasn't any point to the movie, other than maybe to try and cash in on the Keanu Reeves big Matrix star thing. To this day I don't understand how he has an acting career. Don't get me wrong, I loved The Matrix and think it's easily one of the best films I've ever seen, but really, how much did his acting drive that movie? Like I said before, I have never liked James Spader. The only other star in the film was Marisa Tomei, and while she still looks good, her role wasn't very defined. She was just there to be another pretty face for Griffin to attack.

The music had its moments. Some of the stuff was good, but a lot of it was unnecessary and misplaced. There were a lot of scenes that didn't need music but had some, and a lot of scenes that required different music. A lot of the first person camera work seemed cheesy. Like we were looking through the warped eyes of a killer, but instead felt like we were looking through the eyes of a drunk. The movie itself was always dark, I don't recall a scene that actually took place during daylight. All of which lead my to believe that Showtime was supposed to get first crack at this movie, but somehow missed it.

So overall The Watcher is something to skip, unless you're really bored. And even then I suggest playing mini golf or calling an old friend. Heck, call an old enemy, anything other than spending money to see this movie.

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reviewed 09/10/00

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