The Watcher


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What on earth is Keanu Reeves up to? After reinstatement onto the A-list following The Matrix, he is doing his best to throw it all away. He accepted a thankless role in The Gift as a wife-beater and now is totally unconvincing as a man in a leather jacket who cuts the throats of lonely young girls.

The film is beyond belief, which should not matter, as few things resemble reality in serial killer movies.

Joe Charbanic directs with the cine-trickery reserved for pop videos, which gives the plot even less chance of catching hold.

James Spader takes it seriously. He is an actor who deserves respect. As a washed-up FBI agent from Los Angeles, living in Chicago, he conveys paranoia rather well.

Reeves' character could be from Mars. You have no idea who he is, what he's doing and why he takes such risks.

There is something going on between these two, partially revealed by confusing flashbacks. Spader puts on a suit, goes to the top cop investigating the killer's latest atrocity and demands a job. He is put in charge of the operation.

The arty visual style does have a certain energy, as if from a vacuum. Money is wasted on explosions and stunts when it should have been given to a script doctor.

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is in there somewhere, wondering when the agony will end. She plays a shrink who listens to Spader's ramblings about falling apart with unprofessional empathy.

The film gathers every thriller cliche and endorses them with slo-mo. Only Spader believes in what he's doing. The others are coasting. Where to? That is the mystery.

Reviewed on: 09 Mar 2001
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A serial killer plays murder games with burnt-out FBI agent in Chicago.
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Director: Joe Charbanic

Writer: David Elliot, Clay Ayers

Starring: James Spader, Keanu Reeves, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis, Robert Cicchini, Yvonne Niami, Jenny McShane, Gina Alexander, Rebekah Louise Smith, Joseph Sikora

Year: 2000

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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