The Watcher (2000)
Director: Joe Charbonic
Serial killer David (Reeves) toys with ex FBI agent Joel (Spader) by sending him pics of his next victims 24 hours before he kills them. It's up to prescription drug addict Joel to lead a bunch of blind cops into finding the soon-to-be-minced-meat girls. Party on, dudes!!!
The Watcher’s story feels very familiar but the execution of it is different. We’ve all seen this serial killer shenanigan before but the director serves this meal on a different plate. What makes this film standout is without a doubt the directing. Now I’m a sucker for flashy stuff and here I was well served. Lots of quick cuts, crazy lighting and even the use of a digital camera for the killer’s POV shots. I loved it.
James Spader stands out. He looks like crap (for the part) and he will have you riveted to the screen.
The scenes between him and Keanu are good and its a treat to see them play opposite each other.
The plot is fairly basic. You got your killer, your FBI agent, your victims and your homosexual undertones. The film plays it out on a psychological level but in the end decides to give us a slam bang ending that kind of left a sour taste in my mouth (digital explosions anyone?).
The script should’ve delved deeper into the morbid situation it sets up, take more chances and not make the last plot twist so predictable. I also didn’t like the scenes where the cops are looking for the victim while she’s standing right behind them. The slogan should be: To Serve, Protect and Ignore. The film did not reinstate my faith in lawmen that’s fer sure.
In the end this film does deliver some suspense ( beat the clock style), some fine acting, a nice car chase and a BAD Keanu (dancing in slow mo…go boy!) but the flick’s attempt to reach deeper than the average serial killer flick is foiled by the director’s extreme visual style and a standard script. Instead of feeling for the characters I was staring at the neat camera tricks, mouth wide opened yelping a low: whoa!
Some bleeding throats.
James Spader (Joel) gives an astounding show. The part could’ve been quite boring if tackled by a lesser actor. Here Spader proves to us once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s most underrated actor. Keanu Reeves (David) does good but it’s hard to see anybody else than Keanu Reeves. His star status overshadows his acting abilities. At least he didn’t whoa it this time. Did he gain the weight for the part? Marisa Tomei (Polly) comes out of the closet she’s been hiding in for years and does ok with what she’s given. Ernie Hudson does fine with the minuscule part he’s given.
T & A
Keanu Reeves' double chin…
A flash fest. The director uses images to communicate emotion. Everything is quick and tight. He also loves slow motion, shots of clocks and likes to use a digital camera now and then. I liked the style a lot it but a bit less flash would have made me care about the story a tad more.
An amazing score that amplifies the emotions of the film. Some Rob Zombie and Portishead didn’t hurt either.
See it for Spader’s acting, Reeves turn as a killer and the director’s self-indulgent tendencies. A bit more character development (specially the relationship between Reeves and Spader), a more psychological ending, a less conventional script and a bit less flash could have made this one a contender for the "Seven" crown of top serial killer flick. I saw it, enjoyed it and forgot it.
Actor Keanu Reeves did no publicity The Watcher because he was ultimately not very happy with his association to the project. The whole thing started about 10 years ago during a street hockey game when Keanu verbally agreed with director Joe Charbanic (then a struggling music video producer) to play a small part in his film, to help him get financing. But with Reeves on board, the producers were able to get a $30 million budget and re-write Reeves a bigger role. Charbanic says, "The script did change, it got bigger than [Reeves] wanted. He wanted it to be a little boutique film."
When he discovered his cameo role had ballooned into a headlining role, Reeves reportedly threatened to drop out before filming began in Chicago last fall. However, his attorneys recommended the actor not back out of his commitment to the film, citing Kim Basinger's disastrous court case in which she was ordered to pay $8 million to filmmakers for backing out of a verbal agreement to star in the movie BOXING HELENA. So Reeves became a reluctant star. Inside.com reports there was tension on the set, especially once Reeves, who was working for scale, found out Spader and costar Marisa Tomei each nabbed $1 million for their participation.
Not wanting to tick off an A-lister like Reeves, Universal tried to make nice-- and make Keanu virtually disappear from all the marketing. The studio reportedly agreed to feature the actor in no more than 30 percent of the trailer or other ads on the condition he laid off from publicly lambasting the film.