THE WATCHER - 2000
Rating: USA: R
When I first saw previews of this movie (as it was showing in
theaters), I said to myself, “Great, another serial killer movie.”
In my opinion, only a handful of these type of films ever work, and none
within the past couple of years - with the exception of THE
BONE COLLECTOR. I heard slightly good things about THE WATCHER from friends, however, so I decided to pick it up one night.
In it, former FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader: WOLF, SUPERNOVA)
moves from Los Angeles in hopes of leaving his personal demons - and archenemy
- behind. His health and memory deteriorate to the point where he begins
to see a psychiatrist (played by Marisa Tomei, in a cardboard role quite opposite of her obnoxious character in My Cousin
As he starts
to piece himself back together, putting order in his chaotic life, he
receives a phone call from David Allen Griffin (Keanu
Reeves: BramStoker's DRACULA, THE MATRIX [all], THE GIFT), the serial killer he could not apprehend in LA. Griffin wants to continue their cat-and-mouse relationship after he had grown
tired of Campbell’s successor; he feels as though he and the agent are
made for each other - “yin and yang,” as he puts it.
By this point in the movie I was watching it for a lark. This film doesn’t grab one’s
attention and demand to be viewed, however it should be able to hold somewhat
of one’s interest.
Campbell wants nothing to do with Griffin, but the murderer sends the agent clues
in the form of pictures of his next targets. With each photo, Campbell
has until nine o’clock that night to find the victim before they are killed
with Griffin’s MO - strangulation with piano wire.
Through a series of haphazard (and often confusing)
flashbacks, the viewer gathers the events of the fateful night when Campbell
and Griffin first met. It makes sense by the end of the film, however. THE WATCHER drags along for the first two-thirds, only to be picked up and rushed
to the end half an hour later. While I’m not a fan of Reeves, he portrayed
Griffin with the nice touch of solid madness and slight warmth movie-watchers
have come to associate with serial killer cinema.
The directors, Joe Charbanic, and Jeff Jenson (RESURRECTION),
use inventive styles of flashbacks and still-frame negatives that might
work for another film, but not this one; it is too predictable. One can
guess how the film will end up midway through. In addition, these different
styles cannot save its lax script.
Overall, THE WATCHER is mildly entertaining to rent, though not the kind of movie I would have
paid to see in the theater. I give THE WATCHER three shriek girls.
copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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