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The Watcher

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Keanu Reeves, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis
  • Directors: Joe Charbanic
  • Writers: David Elliot, Clay Ayers
  • Producers: Christopher Eberts, Elliot Lewitt, Jeff Rice, Nile Niami
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXND
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,010 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Watcher" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • DVD-ROM Features
  • Recommendations

  • Editorial Reviews

    Product Description

    Keanu Reeves ignites this action-packed, "superbly crafted thriller that zooms along like a sinister video game of hunter and prey!" (Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper and the Movies) After years of pursuing psychotic killers in Los Angeles, FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) wants out. And now his nemesis, serial killer David Allen Griffin (Reeves), has tracked him all the way to Chicago just to torment him. Before each murder, Griffin sends Campbell a photograph of his intended victim and dares him to find her before he strikes again. Now, with every tick of the clock, and amidst pulse-pounding action, this stone-cold killer turns up the heat. Co-starring Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei, this game of cat and mouse will have you gasping for breath from its first terrifying frame until its final explosive conclusion!


    James Spader stars as Joel Campbell, a former detective traumatized by the death of his lover at the hands of a serial killer he'd been hunting--a psychopath who has taken their combative relationship a little too personally, and has now tracked the retired Campbell down in Chicago. The killer, who methodically studies his victims before killing them, starts sending Campbell photographs of prospective victims and gives him a day to find them before they're killed. Campbell rises to the challenge, returns to his role as detective, and launches a comprehensive manhunt for the killer and the women in the photographs. The Watcher is surprisingly watchable--though it does suffer from an excessive use of arty cinematography. But while the psychological interpretation of the killer's behavior is a little too schematic to be convincing, the portrayal of Campbell is quite strong, particularly due to Spader's performance. A much-underrated actor, Spader is lean and efficient in his portrayal, rarely given to flashy histrionics, but compelling and emotionally complex. Unfortunately, the killer is played by Keanu Reeves; and though Reeves isn't as terrible an actor as some critics may say, he's out of his depth here. Still, Spader carries most of the movie, and the sequences in which the police are trying to track down the victims are nicely suspenseful--in fact, the movie is overall more interested in suspense than gore, making it a pleasant change from most contemporary thrillers. Also starring Marisa Tomei as Campbell's psychiatrist and budding romantic interest. --Bret Fetzer

    Customer Reviews

    This movie has got to be one of the worst films I have ever seen.
    I guess we're supposed to think, "Serial killers don't need a reason, they just are." Look, I seldom review movies, but I had to warn people about this.
    Brett Benner
    To start, Keanu Reeves and James Spader were great together and I have always loved both of these actors.
    Paul Vigil

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 7, 2001
    Format: DVD
    There are two reasons why you should buy this flick, excellent performances from Keanu Reeves and James Spader, and an awesome sound track! The relationship between Keanu and Spader are natural and convincing. I like Keanu in the "Bad Guy" role; he puts his laid-back style into the role and totally sells it. I've read some reviews that knock his performance here, I obviously don't agree! His laid back style is a breath of fresh air from the "off the wall, over energetic, borderline spastic" killers that we usually see in this kind of role. In fact, Keanu's demeanor makes the character even that much more spooky! That being said, I do agree that James Spader is the shinning star here. Spader, as the "burnt out" Cop on the verge of a stroke, is painful to watch (in a good way), Spader makes you feel the pain and stress that his character feels. Marisa Tomei does an ample job at playing her role, the fact that the role she portrays isn't really a factor until the end of the movie, she does the job of keeping the character at the level it was meant to be at. Yes this movie has been done before, a few times in fact, but the combination of Spader and Reeves gives it a new face. For my fellow Home Theater owners, this movie is fun to watch. There is great base and crisp highs; explosions will surely give your subs a workout! My only knock of this movie is the over use of (what is considered by today's standard) hip music. When the scene seems to call for suspenseful music, all of a sudden the rap/rock type of music starts (Stigmata had this same problem), but if you can look (or listen) past that, this is a great flick to watch and own.
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    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Victor Drysel on March 2, 2001
    Format: DVD
    The main thing that made me want to see this movie was to see if Keanu Reeves could pull off the whole serial killer thing. I was impressed with his performance. Actually I was impressed with the whole thing. It was done tastefully and well. It was really nice to see James Spader finally in another movie. In my opinion, he's a very under-rated actor. The main plot line follows Spader's character. He's an ex FBI agent that before leaving was heading a major investigation looking for a serial killer named David Allen Griffin. Griffin (Reeves) is fixated on Spader and wants him back in the game. There's a lot of action, and some cool cinematic shots done that made the movie have a really interesting feel. I recommend this one to the people looking for some good entertainment.
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    11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Danno VINE VOICE on March 22, 2006
    Format: DVD
    "The Watcher" looks and sounds like a made-for-cable-TV thriller about a stalker/serial killer. I was surprised to learn that it got a theatrical release, which I think accounts for its many poor reviews. This isn't a terrible film by any means. Instead, it's a time killer that fans of either James Spader or Keanu Reeves will probably get a kick out of and there's some lovely location footage of Chicago to boot.

    Keanu Reeves plays a serial killer from James Spader's past. He tracks the former FBI agent down and starts killing young women again. This forces Spader to resume his career as an FBI agent; a decision that is fraught with drama because Spader is now burnt-out on police work and is virtually addicted to a variety of prescription drugs. There's nothing spectacularly intriguing or even novel about the film's premise or execution. But if you're a fan of Spader's TV work, you're going to like this one a lot, and it's fun to see Reeves play what is essentially an extended cameo cast against type. Marisa Tomei fans beware - the talented actress is almost totally wasted in a small, thankless role.

    Great cinema? Hardly. But as a Spader fan, I enjoyed this one as a rental and think you will too.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Litton on February 21, 2001
    Format: DVD
    "It's never quite that easy... you go through the door, they're never just sitting there waiting for you with a welcoming smile on their face. Best you can do is hope they screw up and do what you can to be there when they do."
    "The Watcher" is the most recent addition to a long line of serial killer thriller films, and it does a somewhat commendable job in carrying out its plot. In reality, it is little more than a highly stylized showcase for all of the classic thriller cliches that have become so well-known throughout the last century, taking them and giving them an extra flare by using stunning cinematic tricks, a stellar cast and a pounding soundtrack. I am divided as to whether I like this movie or not: I enjoyed the vast array of shocking and vivid images, while I tended to become a bit bored by the cliches it portrayed throughout. I can't say that I completely hated this film, yet I cannot fully like it, either.
    The movie begins when FBI agent Joel Campbell begins receiving phone calls and photographs from his arch nemesis, a serial killer whose last alias was that of David Allen Griffin. He takes special care in killing lonely women with piano wire, leaving the scene of the crime with no trace of his identity. Campbell has a personal connection to Griffin: through his flashbacks, we see his attempt to rescue a woman trapped in a burning house, and his relationship to this woman as well as his involvement with Griffin will all be revealed in due time, one of the movie's attributes. The beginning of the movie may seem draggy the first fifteen minutes, as we are taken into the depths of Campbell's psychological and physical problems, but the movie will pick up once Griffin makes contact.
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