The Watcher (2000) / Thriller-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: James Spader, Keanu Reeves, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis
Director: Joe Charbanic
Screenplay: David Elliott, Clay Ayers
Review published September 14, 2000
A washed up detective is on the trail of a serial killer who almost ruined his career and life during a serial killing spree in Chicago. The detective moves to another city for a fresh start, but the killer feels a bond there and moves with him. Now the killer is sending pictures of his intended victims and it's up to the down-and-out detective to pull himself together and try to bring the killer down.
This whole cop/killer yin-yang thing has been done to death, so it should come as no surprise that THE WATCHER is a routine thriller with little in the way of genuine thrills or freshness. Sporting a well-known cast of actors whose careers are on the skids, everyone seems to be playing against type. James Spader plays the former Chicago cop, and while his acting is fine, his ponderous posturing hardly fits the bill.
Tomei as Spader's psychiatrist is hard enough to swallow, but her inclusion couldn't have made the proceedings any more predictable had she worn a t-shirt stating "I'LL BE THE LAST INTENDED VICTIM". Reeves is his usual terrible self, and at no time throughout the film can muster even a hint of real menace required. With poor thespian selections and a pedestrian script, only first-time director Joe Charbanic's flashy and economical direction keeps THE WATCHER watchable. I suppose it might be worth a watch if every other channel on TV has static, but even then it's a toss-up.
©2001 Vince Leo