Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th September 2000
Box Office USA: $28.6M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 10%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 80
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Joe Charbanic
Starring: James Spader as FBI Special Agent Joel Campbell, Keanu Reeves as David Allen Griffin, Marisa Tomei as Dr. Polly Beilman, Ernie Hudson as FBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Ibby, Chris Ellis as Hollis, Robert Cicchini as Mitch, Yvonne Niami as Lisa, Jenny McShane as Diana, Gina Alexander as Sharon, Rebekah Louise Smith as Ellie, Joseph Sikora as Skater, Jill Peterson as Jessica, Michele DiMaso as Rachel, Andrew Rothenberg as Jack Fray, David Pasquesi as Norton
Following one of the most pitiful title sequences I've ever seen, The Watcher actually proceeds to become one of the most pitiful thrillers I've ever seen. And that takes some doing... but let me tell you how.
I give the movie half a point for its mildly eyebrow-raising premise. An L.A. serial killer (Reeves) has finally worn down the cop who was chasing him (James Spader) to the point where he can no longer function in society. The cop gives up on the chase after a dozen-plus murders go unsolved, moves to Chicago, and tries to drop out of life with his migraine medication. Only the killer tracks him down, 2,000 miles away, and tries to revive their old cat-and-mouse game, by mailing our hero a photograph of an anonymous and lovely young lady, sentencing her to die in 24 hours if the cops can't track her down. Surprise: Witness some of the worst police work in movie history as the cops can't track her down. Rinse and repeat.
Like I said, it's a semi-interesting premise once you get past the fact that Nancy Drew could put these cops to shame. But of course, it's all ruined by shoddy acting and some just-plain-God-awful filmmaking that is shameful in its incompetence. Reeves is utterly wooden, as if he is reading his lines from a TelePrompTer that's running too slow, and with nary a "Whoa" to utter. Spader is fine yet unimpressive. And Marisa Tomei -- starring as Spader's shrink and a would-be victim of the killer -- has turned positively ghoulish now that she's reached maturity. (Note: She's supposed to be one of those "lovely young ladies" I mentioned above.)
But let's get down to the worst offendor. Director Joe Charbanic (absolutely no credits on record aside from a few crappy music videos) has no business being behind a camera at all and should retire now before someone gets hurt. This is Film School 101 stuff, what with the ridiculous use of blurred-motion video footage (you see, we're looking through the killer's eyes!), the positive-negative-positive effect to make things oh-so-creepy, sudden flashes of white light, and, well, more blurred-motion video footage. My cat could puke up a better film after a diet of canned tuna and fur.
Which reminds me: As a funny footnote to The Watcher, Keanu Reeves has actually hired Charbanic to direct a music video or two for his band Dogstar (which is reportedly quite awful). My poor kitty may be spared some work after all.
The storage facility for prints of The Watcher goes up in flames.