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The Watcher (2000)
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Review Date: September 09, 2000
Director: Joe Charbanic
Writer: David Elliot, Clay Ayers
Producers: Chris Eberts, Elliott Lewitt, Jeff Rice
Actors:
James Spader
Keanu Reeves
Marisa Tomei
Plot:
Another nutty serial killer is on the loose. Another FBI agent is chasing him down with no luck. That is until the serial killer decides to make a game out of his killings and send pictures of his next victim to the agent 24 hours before he commits each murder. That way, the Feds have a whole day to locate and save his next target.
Critique:
A serviceable serial killer thriller that actually improves as it moves along but ultimately can't escape the pool of basic contrivances in which it wades. The movie starts a little slow, establishing a sorted background on both the killer and the agent bent on apprehending him early on, but does so with a particularly annoying overemphasis on style, in my opinion. The director takes slo-mo and strobe effects to a new level here and doesn't really add much to the film with either effect. In fact, I found most of his "stylish" endeavors to be quite distracting and would have rather seen a more straightforward approach to the movie. The "Reeves" factor, with Keanu taking a stab at the "bad guy" role, was actually much better than I expected. We all have to admire Reeves for at least trying to stretch his acting abilities with this part, but I suspect that his character would have benefited greatly from a change of appearance from the typical "Keanu" look. Don't get me wrong, overall I thought that he gave a pretty credible performance, but at some point these super-star actors have to recognize that their familiarity could well take away from their characters' full potential. In this case, a goatee, a beard, bleached hair or anything different might've added that little "something" to his overall performance. But enough about Keanu.

The story of this film is pretty standard in the serial killer genre. The murderer who insists on giving his burnt out tracker clues with the hopes of making a "game" out of his killing spree. I never really understood why they do that, but whatever! The action is also pretty standard, with one basic car chase but a surprisingly few decent moments of suspense. I also enjoyed the background development on the James Spader character, despite the overuse of flashbacks to do so, but didn't get enough out of the bad guy's motivations. All we know is that he's nuts and likes to kill? Pretty weak. But the film certainly doesn't suffer from any major plot holes, and does give us a nice deliberation between the two men sometime near the end of the film, with another solid performance from underrated actor James Spader. Now I'm not exactly sure where Marisa Tomei was for the past few years or why she chose to take this very bittie part after all that time, but for what she had to do...I guess she was alright in the movie. Overall, like many of this year's other films, this movie doesn't really bring anything fresh or innovative to the genre, but does present us with an "okay" time for an hour and a half.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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