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Plot: David Allen Griffin is a cool killer- time and time again, he chooses a female victim, studies her for weeks till he knows her routine to the smallest detail, makes meticulous preparations ... Runtime: 97 mins Release Date: 08 Sep 2000
Joel Campbell James Spader is an FBI agent on leave. He literally "left" his home base in Los Angeles, defeated, because of a particularly hairy case involving an unusually devious, crafty and risk-loving serial killer who went by the name of David Allen Griffin Keanu Reeves . The Watcher begins with Campbell resettled in Chicago, trying to put his life back in order. But what will happen when Griffin shows up in the Windy City? This is an unusual film in many ways. Although on one level it's a fairly standard thriller with Reeves playing a subtly twisted baddie, it's <more>
really a complex psychological portrait that focuses more on Spader as Campbell.Campbell's life is a mess in Chicago. He can't work and he can barely take care of himself. He looks and feels miserable. His apartment reflects his life--though sparse in content, it's extremely unkempt and unhealthy looking. He is having continual nightmares. He has to inject himself in the stomach with prescription drugs to get over panic attacks and to enable at least a couple hours sleep at night. Of course Campbell is making regular visits to a psychiatrist, Dr. Polly Beilman Marisa Tomei .He became such a wreck because of being wrapped up so long with the Griffin case. Griffin regularly toyed with Campbell, communicating with him and even giving him clues so that Campbell would be able to almost but not quite beat Griffin to the punch. Amusingly, director Joe Charbanic portrays Griffin as more well adjusted and much more focused than Campbell.As Dr. Beilman discerns, Griffin was Campbell's raison d'etre for so long--almost his sole concern--that abandoning the case resulted in Campbell effectively abandoning his life. Thus Charbanic gives us a clever, ethically gray twist. Griffin may be beneficial to Campbell; he may be the only one who can get him back on track. Likewise, Griffin is shown to be a bit lost without Campbell. It creates a fascinating psychological dependency in a twisted relationship that mirrors the two other male-female relationships that propel the plot, providing a subtext about co-dependency and slightly off-kilter, questionably healthy relationships in general.Although Reeves is often criticized for his acting ability, The Watcher is an excellent example of what that is unjustified. It's not that Reeves doesn't have range. It's that he's extremely subtle. He's not an actor to chew scenery. His Griffin is really just as psychotic as, say, De Niro's Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver 1976 or Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance in The Shining 1980 , but Reeves isn't usually one to maniacally chop down a door with an axe and crazily intone "Heeeere's Johnny", you have to watch him closer than that to see the character. Even when he's in full action mode, either as a killer, as he is here, or as a superhero, as in The Matrix 1999 , Reeves is all about a kind of quiet control. It's not a better or worse style than De Niro or Nicholson, just different. Spader also gives a finely tuned performance. As the character requirements have it, he's a fine complement for Reeves, somewhat paralleling Reeves' style, somewhat providing a counterpoint.The film has interesting things to say about anonymity in modern societies, especially big cities. Griffin is able to play the games he does only because so many people are faceless and ignored.Charbanic films The Watcher with a unique visual style can be "arty"--especially during the flashbacks--and conventionally build suspense at the same time. He's also aided by a great score including a couple brief snippets of Reeves "dancing" to Rob Zombie and attractive production design.The Watcher isn't the typical "10 out of 10" film, as its surface gloss is more pedestrian than the usual film of that caliber. But if you dig just a little deeper, you'll find gold.
James Spader and Keanu Reeves....it doesn't get any better than this! (by blindbiz)
James Spader in an outstanding performance as a cop tormented by many demons, both in his mind and on the other end of his telephone. Keanu Reeves is every woman's nightmare---a charming killer with the face of an angel and the soul of a demon. Tense, twisting plot, great ending. Gotta own it on DVD...satisfying for both men and women.
Really Good (by BlueOrgy)
Some might say, Keanu Reeves is not a good serial killer. But so what, he played his part well. I do not think this movie was that scary, but it had a good plot. There were even moments of some small comedy.The Watcher is about a retired detective Spader who moves to Chicago. But he does not know that his "favorite" serial killer Reeves has followed him. Now, he has brought the retiree out of retirement.When I went to see this, my friend said, now she felt like someone was watching her. But than I told her, do you really think Keanu Reeves would come out and kill you. I think <more>
that eased her nerves. Shouldn't really scare anyone, but definatly a bit nerve racking.Rated R for violence. There wasn't really much language or blood to be found in this movie. Sexuality was far from The Watcher. Definatly worth a 'watch.'
Believably tragic characters without over-the-top performances. (by scarfes)
I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. The plot was written in a way to make the characters very believable and real. Spader plays a tragic hero that needs the bad guy under-played to perfection by Reeves to come back into his life in order to find closure with his past and come to terms with the present. Neither Spader nor Reeves played to stereotypes common to this genre, and as a result, their performances were gritty and powerful without coming across as over-the-top. Stereotyped performances are a common weakness in many other similar movies, which are also good <more>
movies, but they rely on star performances from their marquee actors. This becomes a troublesome thing when the acting tends to define the movie and hides weaknesses and implausibility within the script. Recent examples of this are seen in The Bone Collector, Copycat, and Kiss The Girls. I liked each of these movies for different reasons, but The Watcher was more real to me because the actors weren't playing a type. Spader showed a reluctant vulnerability and a controlled intensity that was very true-to-life in my experience. And Reeves was so spooky as the serial killer because he tried to show a small sliver of his Evil each time without ever overdoing it. Another great surprise was Tomei, who came out of semi-retirement to also give us a dead-on performance as Spader's psychiatrist. She, too, acted emotionally in a way that filled the role without ever becoming a movie stereotype. Visually, her hair, make-up, and clothes helped downplay her character and allowed her to become just another real person who arbitrarily became involved in things. I think this was a great choice for her.
James Spader as a sympathetic character and Keanu Reeves as a psychotic one indicates that whoever made this movie put their balls to the wall. Lucky for them, it paid off; as Spader's yuppie malaise translates into gumshoe weariness in this role, and Keanu's desire to break type-casting molds translates into calculated homicidal mania. Furthermore, far removed from her "My Cousin Vinny" fame, Marisa Tomei lives up to her hype as a psychiatrist who encourages Spader's character to go back into the fray.You'll find yourself at odds with this one as you watch it, but <more>
if you stick with it, you'll find the movie's quite rewarding. Your gut response to the casting will reverse itself about halfway through when this film's pistons really start to turn. At that point, you're hooked--much as you are to a cheesy drama or daytime soap--and the end pays off.Spader and Reeves both play well against type, giving them both points for true acting chops, and Tomei takes her career a step further very quietly in this role. The first half hooks you with curiosity. The second with intrigue. It's well worth a look, and even worthy of a second one to make one marvel at how the makers pulled it off in the first place.
You Gotta see this! Keanu Reeves completely diverse! (by ThatsGoodInnit)
As soon as i read about this movie, i wanted to see it, Keanu Reeves the cool, laid back, Surfer dude, playing a serial killer, was totally different and diverse, and Keanu Reeves proves to the audiences, he can play a really nasty character! He's a classic! I was totally surprised by him, he's mad, and insane, with some sick 1 liners! and James Spader was well worth watching! he put in a good performance, some parts of his acting needs brushing up, but on the hole he was the right choice for the role! Marisa Tomei didn't have a huge part it was mainly Keanu/Spader but she was the <more>
subject at the end, which slotted in the beginning to make the end! i now like her and will look out for her! great effects, explosions, and intensity, which makes this a hit!
The Watcher portrays the somewhat symbiotic relationship between hero and villain and it explores the peculiar means of communication that develop between the two. (by chrisbrown6453)
After being identified and harassed by the elusive serial killer David Allen Griffin Keanu Reeves , the distressed FBI agent Joel Campbell James Spader moves to Chicago from Los Angeles in order to secure his own safety and peace of mind. However, tormented by the anguish of past failures, Campbell is unable to ameliorate his physical and mental health and his bruised existence is again challenged by Griffin's reappearance in Chicago. Amused and motivated by Campbell's compassion toward all female victims, Griffin who spies on lonely women and then kills them heightens the stakes <more>
of his hide-and-seek game with Campbell by sending him a photograph of the intended victim of the day, thus testing his ability to save her. However, when Griffin's final defiance involves Campbell's psychologist Marisa Tomei , the two test each other's limits.The Watcher follows its two main characters intimately, often detailing the mechanics of Griffin's moves through Campbell's point of view as an observer who must solve a mystery. By depicting Campbell's dependence on painkillers, for example, The Watcher successfully transmits the deteriorated mental and physical state of this protagonistic character. The Watcher is most intriguing when it attempts to portray a society that --through its indifference-- creates its own victims and delivers, so to speak, the loneliest and most vulnerable to their executioner. The Watcher uses this notion of people's unwillingness to help and builds its suspense by simultaneously emphasizing the protagonist's struggles to beat the murderer's deadline. Furthermore, The Watcher successfully defines both protagonist and antagonist as "the watcher" of the other, thus suggesting a somewhat sado-masochistic bond between the two. In spite of this success, The Watcher relies on an excess of repeated flashbacks in the form of highly stylized, often blurry, shots that depict Campbell's previous interaction with Griffin. This choice weakens The Watcher's attempts to establish realism around both characters' past connection, and loosens the otherwise tight pace of the plot.The watcher hits on both a realistic level, and an entertaining level never before reached with a movie starring Keanu Reeves.
Really enjoyed this movie. It is not in the least bit predictable, as so many thrillers seem to be. Fast paced & lots of action. Kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Many threads are woven throughout and they tie up towards the end of the movie so that most of our questions are answered.Casting is great. Spader, our hero, is far from perfect & his obsession with catching 'his' man has had a disasterous affect on his life. He is a complex character who is introducted to us in stages- as the story unravels so does his life.Reeves surprises in his portrayal of a <more>
psycho serial killer. He plays this guy with an eerie realism that see him really well cast here. We hear so many poor reviews of this guy's acting but I can't figure it. He is really believable in this role and shows once again that he can take any character and 'become' him; whether it is Neo in the Matrix or the lovable Ted from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.We enter the world of the serial killer & get to see his version of our reality. We follow the agent in a chase against time to stop the madness.This movie is not run of mill. It is different & provocative. I highly recommend it.
I went to see this film expecting to be disappointed. My last movie outing Highlander: Endgame was a ho-hum-why-didn't-I-wait-for-the-video experience. I entered the theater this weekend expecting more of the same. Imagine my surprise! This is not the greatest serial killer movie ever made but it's very entertaining. The actors save this film. Keanu Reeves delves into his dark side and pulls out a winner. I will admit that I'm a "Keanu Fan". I enjoy his work and disagree with all the nay sayers who cannot get past one role in his varied repertoire. Keanu uses his smile <more>
and eyes in this film much the same way Jack Nicholson did in The Shining. Keanu's smile, which is usually so engaging, is much extremely menacing here. His eyes are chilling. The windows to Griffin's soul are hard and cold especially when combined with the smile. He brings an element of subtle, gleeful danger to the character of Griffin. He walks with an arrogant swagger. His interchanges with James Spader are a seductive waltz as he tries to lure Spader's burnt-out agent closer to the homoerotic, symbiotic relationship that they only share in Griffin's mind. Subtlety is the key to all the performances in this film. Spader and Reeves refuse to go over the top even in the most visceral scenes. Neither actor took the easy way. Marisa Tomei was also excellent. She showed nuances in her acting that I had not believed she was capable of expressing. Overall, this movie is a must see.