The Watcher (2000)
Main cast: James Spader (Agent Joel Campbell), Keanu Reeves (David Allen Griffin), and Marisa Tomei (Polly)
Director: Joe Charbanic

Surprise: Keanu Reeves can play a decent serial killer. He still holds the Oscar for Best Imitation of a Chunk of Wood in my personal Academy Award show, but hey, he isn't too bad in The Watcher.

The Watcher, unfortunately, is a rather predictable snooze of a serial-killer toys with cop movie. It's not that much different from, say, Seven or Silence Of The Lambs. In fact, the latter movies do the thrill thing better than TW.

The story is about the serial killer David Griffin, who has a thing about killing his women after Fed-Exing their photos to the cops nine hours earlier. The main cop he is toying with is Joel Campbell. Joel is tormented by his inability to prevent Griffin from murdering his wife years back, and now he survives on a healthy diet of barbiturates. Will Joel stop David this time around?

Joel's shrink Polly does say the two men have a really unhealthy codependent relationship.

Thing is, The Watcher has zero suspense. After all, with a star like Keanu Reeves playing serial killer, would the filmmakers keep his identity a secret for the first three quarters of the movie? Of course not. Therefore, it's up to the police bungling up to keep the movie from becoming only 30 minutes long. So the cops bungle and bungle and bungle up, in a monotonous zombiefied pattern that really make me worry about the ability of the cops in my area.

And towards the end, guess who becomes the serial loony's Grand Finale Victim? (Hint: the only woman in the main billing.)

James Spader and Marissa Tomei put in valiant performances to save the movie, but to me, I have one personal and irrational prejudice. James Spader's mug irritates me silly. I do want to smack his face when that man gives that leery blank stare that is passed off as "tormented look". And since Tomei's character serves only one purpose, well, Polly's role doesn't need to be well-fleshed out. Or so the scriptwriters think.

Either way, The Watcher is more cable TV material than anything. Stick to Silence Of The Lambs or even Seven - The Watcher is a pale shadow of these movies.

Rating: 56

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