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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keanu and Spader, Perfect together!
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...
Published on March 7, 2001 by Amazon Customer

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Piece of Film
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...
Published on March 2, 2001 by Victor Drysel


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keanu and Spader, Perfect together!, March 7, 2001
This review is from: The Watcher (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
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Piece of Film, March 2, 2001
This review is from: The Watcher (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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passable thriller; good for Reeves or Spader fans, March 22, 2006
This review is from: The Watcher (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice filming techniques, solid acting., February 21, 2001
By 
D. Litton (Wilmington, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Watcher (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.
We learn that Griffin has followed Campbell to Chicago from Los Angeles, out of some desire unknown to the audience. Campbell's therapist, Polly Beilman, believes that they have become so enamored with one another, the killer with eluding Campbell, and Campbell with catching his prey, that one would not know how to live without the other. Campbell receives a phone call from Griffin, who offers him a single chance to locate his victims within a 24-hour period of time. As he begins selecting his victims, the chase is on as Campbell picks up more clues and hints as to the location and identity of Griffin.
Sounds good, right? So what is it about this thriller that partially ruins it? For me, it was the extensive amount of cliches that the movie contains, from the very beginning until the ending, which is a little unsatisfying. The movie contains its fair share of bungling cops who always arrive one minute too late to save the victim from their grizzly fate. This leaves it up to one man, the only smart one of the bunch, to try and decifer all the clues on his own, temporarily aided in scenes where he needs it. This formula has been used so many times, it's a bit of a letdown that script writers David Elliot and Clay Ayers could not come up with something more original.
There is one of two good things about this movie, though, and that is its sense of style and filming techniques. The beginning sequences does a good job of instilling a slight sense of fear in the viewers, which is also carried on throughout the remainder of the film by the flashy cinematography which includes the grainy images as seen from Griffin's point of view, slow-motion flashbacks that leave us to use our imaginations when constructing crime scenes, and fast-moving scenes during intense action sequences. There is an offbeat vision and sensory style to this film which allows it to rise out of the depths of film hell. The soundtrack also adds a lot of pulsating bass beats to add to the unease intended by the filmmakers, while also delivering a killer soundtrack of alternative music to accompany the pursuits.
This movie is also not unlike one of Reeves' others films, "Chain Reaction," which contained some of the best action sequences while possessing a faulty story. The case for this movie is similar, as there is another stunning cavalcade of action effects and suspense-building scenes. The cops-versus-Griffin chase scenes offer a lot in terms of suspense, while also keeping the movie going at a steady pace. Another turnon for the film is the way in which the murder scenes are carried out. There is not a vast amount of blood or gore in these scenes, which allows us to use more of our imagination in putting it together as it happens. I like it when a movie is able to do this, instead of taking gore and passing it off as art.
Actors for "The Watcher" deliver quality performances that make the movie enjoyable. James Spader plays the delusional detective Joel Campbell, and he does a perfect job in delivering Campbell's emotions when it comes to pursuing his target. We are able to believe in his not wanting to give up despite the effects it may have on him physically and emotionally. Spader plays Campbell as a stern and aggressive character, the character to root for throughout. Keanu Reeves plays his rival, David Allen Griffin, and does one of his better acting jobs here. This is material he was born to play... he possesses wit and a certain twisted charm that is intrical to Griffin's character, and that makes him a better serial killer than most other movies. Oscar winner Marisa Tomei plays therapist Polly Beilman, though she is not really able to display a lot of her talent in this film, as it focuses mainly on the two leads and their physical and psychological battle with one another.
I give "The Watcher" three stars on the basis of its cinematography, its acting, its action sequences, and its unrealized potential. The story does leave a lot to be desired in terms of originality, but it can be a lot of fun if you don't think too much about it. The fast pace of the film never hinders, and the actors never fail in giving us performances to cheer for. We almost wish we could extract the characters and place them in a different movie, but nonetheless, it remains enjoyable on a strictly basic level.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Watcher Got Watched, March 2, 2003
This review is from: The Watcher (DVD)
This movie was decent overall. It was capably acted, especially by Spader, whose ability to really breathe life into his characters shines through as usual. I could not help but feel sympathy for the hopelessly depressed and drugged central character. Marissa Tomei is also featured, acting well and looking very lovely without being sickeningly pretty, and coming off as both intelligent and caring in her part as psychologist to the battered protagonist. Three cheers for casting a competent and compelling actress in the lead female role. Keanu Reeves is satisfactorily creepy in his role as the killer (no spoilers, I promise, the viewer knows who the killer is from the beginning). The plot was a bit typical to the serial killer suspense genre, but nonetheless entertaining, and I did not lose interest at any point during the movie. Suspense was built up nicely and there was a pleasant element of continuity to the plot which made it quite easy to follow. There are a lot of flashbacks, which are a bit more drawn out than they need to be, but three more cheers for building up a background to this story. Technical aspects of the DVD were all satisfactory to me. In conclusion, this film was basically average but I give it four stars because when I ask myself, "Did I have a good time watching this movie?" my answer is, "Yes."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Piano wire wouldn't leave you this breathless!, February 17, 2003
This review is from: The Watcher (DVD)
Now this is what we need more of; pretty boy actors renowned for nice guy roles taking a walk off the beaten commercial path to explore darker subject matter.
In Joe Charbanic's twisted little pressure cooker of a movie The Watcher, Keanu Reeves not only wandered into seriously more disturbing material, he took a tent with him, threw away the compass and camped comfortably in it, the results of which include a transformation that's as far away from Neo, his Matrix alter ego, as humanly possible. It's plausible that The Chosen One himself might have turned tail and fled if ever faced with Keanu's chillingly charismatic 'Watcher'(the killer of this piece), whether he knew Kung Fu or not.
Publicly violated and torn apart frame by bloody frame by the critics upon release, The Watcher, ironically enough, should be thankful that the reviews were so scathing. All this highly inaccurate reviewing does is further serve to lower your guard for what becomes a truly tense and highly strung game of cat and mouse. Taking the classic story of nemesis and cop and training a television camera on it, Reeves portrays David Allen Griffin, a smartly dressed and suave individual with a penchant for strangling young single woman with piano wire. After feeling abandoned by the FBI agent Joel Campbell (played with praise-worthy restraint by the impeccable James Spader) who was assigned to his case and who Griffin has come to admire and, in a way, almost depend upon to give his vocation validity in the grand scheme of things, Griffin relocates to Chicago in order to pick up on their unique relationship afresh, news that awakens a buried dread within the distraught and regretful Campbell. It's only a matter of time before Griffin is, once again, rendering his piano unplayable, dragging Campbell once more into a nightmarish paranoid world where every second counts.
Charbanic's tale presents the unfolding events from an original and distinctive perspective, one that lends itself admirably to the director's strengths. Namely, the media. With the superb inclusion of Griffin 'willing to try and make things work' between himself and Campbell by sending the agent photographs of the targeted victim and allowing the police twenty four hours to locate her, it serves as the perfect motive for the movie to truly tighten the tension screws which it succeeds in doing in excruciatingly spectacular fashion. The plot weaves tighter and tighter like Griffin's piano wire as by each murder, we witness Campbell's deterioration as the horrifying realisation that he may not be capable of saving the victims becomes an increasingly real sensation, a matter touched upon in a beautifully downplayed sombre moment between Campbell and his counsellor, played with admirable strength and vulnerability by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei.
Add to this stew the wonderfully haunting score, the truly shocking yet undeniably sylish violence and decidedly unsettling cinematography and you begin to wonder why The Watcher was ever so persecuted in the first place. Ignore the critics and don't go home alone. Take The Watcher with you.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GRIPPING...AND VERY SUSPENSEFUL!, February 17, 2001
This review is from: The Watcher (DVD)
Burned-out FBI agent Jack Campbell (James Spader) has left LA and settled in Chicago. Still tormented by the nightmares of a serial killer that has not been caught, Jack, tries to put back the pieces of his life, with the help of his psychiatrist (Marisa Tomei), but his life is about to take a turn for the worse.
David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves) is the killer that got away, and he has followed Jack to Chicago. He has a nasty game he wants to play, and Jack is the key player.
Griffin will send Jack a photograph of each victim on the day he plans to murder them, if they are to stay alive, Jack must find them before 9:00pm.
As the game of cat and mouse heats up, so do the stakes, for Griffin knows what makes Jack tick, and the next victim may be someone very close to him.
"The Watcher" is a gripping thriller, that glues you to your seat from the first five minutes, and hurtles you through a twisted maze of madness. Very few movies can give away the identity of the killer in the opening and still be suspenseful, but "The Watcher" pulls it off by creating an atmosphere of tension that never lets up.
James Spader is (as always) very good as the mentally scarred FBI agent, and Keanu Reeves takes a nice turn in the role of the totally deranged killer.
Exciting plot, suspense, action, and very good acting make this a must own for thriller fans.
Nick Gonnella
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *~* KEANU REEVES IS A BELIEVABLE KILLER IN THIS MOVIE *~*, May 31, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Watcher (DVD)
...I think that having a person that didn't look like some psychotic freak was one of the best things about the movie! Keanu was charming yet creepy, sneeky, cunning, & quick. I think Keanu Reeves did a superb job, as did James Spader, & Marisa tomei. This is a VERY good movie, and had I listened to all of these... critcs, I would've never of watched the movie -- and I'd of missed out on a BELIEVEABLE MOVIE ABOUT A BELIEVABLE SERIAL KILLER...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated and quite enjoyable little movie, June 25, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Watcher (DVD)
Despite the mixed reviews, I found myself enjoying this movie and since I didn't purchase it there was no disappointment on that level. Some movies make great rentals on a rainy Sunday and this was perfect as it kept me guessing to the outcome to the twisted and complex story about a serial killer and the detective on his back.

James Spader (who was also great in Boston Legal, Secretary, Stargate, Wolf) did a great job portraying Joel Campbell, a retired detective who had moved on with his life after an enigmatic past that wakes him up in cold sweat and nightmares. He is clearly not over whatever happened to him back on the west coast and is trying to get his life back as he sees a shrink (Marisa Tomei) to help him out. His daily grind is un-interrupted by a murder that happens in his own building and when he finds a letter mailed to him, postmarked three days before the murder happened with the girls picture in it he is more than concerned. Spader recognizes the situation as the nightmare scenario that he escaped from as it trespasses on his turf and makes his life hell again. He knows that the mysterious man known as Griffin played by Keanu Reeves is obsessed with him and has tracked him down, sending him cards and pictures of his next victims. He gives Spader till 9pm each day to find the victim or he kills them; chocking from behind with piano wire leaving a trail of blood and pain behind.

Campbell must find the potential victims and save them, as they are tied to the mystery why he retired and ran away. To find closure and peace he must salvage all his strength, clever tactics, his rather barbaric people skills and his fading mental capabilities to catch Griffin and to avenge a death close to his heart.

I enjoyed the twists and turns and having seen failure and struggle instead of smooth sailing for the main character as he slips and falls but then gets up and fights back made it non-predictable and fun.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch it!, May 27, 2001
By 
Tyler Disley (Jackson, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Watcher [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The Watcher is a movie that I surprisingly had high hopes for, even for the bad reviews, and the obvious miscast of Keanu Reeves. I was in the mood for a psychological thriller, and I got one. The Watcher was a good movie in many different aspects. The directing was superb. I have never heard of Joe Charbanic, let alone seen any of his movies. But I plan on checking some of his other movies out. He really knows how to mold and shape a film. The Cinematography was outstanding as well. Some of the scenery and camera angles left me in awe. The only hitch was the acting though. I thought everyone, especially James Spader, did an excellent job besides Keanu Reeves. Reeves is a good actor, don't get me wrong, it's just that this is not the role he is fit for. He didn't drag the movie down at all, but you had to think that maybe there are others actors out there that could have done the job more eloquently. Overall, The Watcher is a very entertaining movie that leaves you in shock at times. Don't base this movie on the reviews it got. Go watch it. 5 Stars
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The Watcher
The Watcher by Joe Charbanic
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