ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 3.02 stars
by 1155 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Rough Watching
by Betty Jo Tucker

Because of its jerky camera movements and high-speed photography, I found The Watcher impossible to sit through without closing my eyes a good part of the time. The bloody nature of this psychological thriller didnít bother me as much as its MTV video format, which is fine for television but annoying on the big screen. The movie stars James Spader as an FBI agent in hiding and Keanu Reeves as a serial killer on the loose in Chicago. Although both actors give satisfactory performances, they carry the burden of a lackluster script and confusing flashbacks. Also, itís difficult to understand why filmmakers didnít switch Spader and Reeves during the casting process, thereby allowing each actor to play a role better suited to him.

When we first meet Joel Campbell (Spader), he looks so pathetic itís easy to feel sorry for him. His apartment is a mess. The only food in his refrigerator is an orange, and he seems to be living on pain pills. He keeps having flashbacks about a beautiful woman burning to death. (If you miss the first one, donít worry. That same ghastly memory is shown over and over again ad nauseam). Spader (2 Days in the Valley) may be more convincing in smarmier roles, but he gained my sympathy immediately as an investigator traumatized by his failure to catch a psychotic killer in Los Angeles. With his disturbed facial expression and squinting eyes, he projects the excruciating pain of migraine headaches quite realistically. As a fellow-sufferer, I can vouch for that.

Campbell, guilt-ridden over his lack of success, has moved to Chicago to find a less stressful life. Unfortunately, the elusive killer follows him. David Allen Griffin (Reeves) starts sending Campbell photos of women he plans to kill, giving him a certain amount of time to find the victims in order to save them.

Surprisingly, Reeves (The Replacements) plays against type effectively during most of his scenes, exuding a seductive evil in this villainous role. Even his usually soothing voice takes on a devilish tone as he smiles while assuring one of his prey, "This will be fun!" But what was the talented actor thinking by appearing in combination dance/martial arts shots throughout the film? They make no sense to anyone --- except maybe first-time director Joe Charbanic (who also helms videos for Reevesí Dogstar band).

Actually, not much else makes sense here either. The story lacks any background of motivation for its main characters. Sure, Campbell likes to capture killers and Griffin enjoys killing. But what draws them together in such a symbiotic relationship? Why does Griffin use a piano wire to strangle women? Why does he abduct Griffinís psychiatrist (Marisa Tomei) and tie her up in a warehouse full of lighted candles --- other than because this makes another good music video scene?

This disappointing film is the least compelling of the recent movies about serial killers. The Cell and American Psycho feature greater suspense and better production values. Despite their graphic violence, both films are more watchable than The Watcher.

(Released by Universal Pictures and rated "R" for violence and language.)

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC