The Watcher (2000)

3.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 2/10

Straight forward detective thriller

Bad visuals, acting, story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Watcher

Studio:  Universal Studios

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Horror

Release Date(s):  September 8, 2000

MPAA Rating:  R


It’s a bro-mance

Joel Campbell (James Spader) is a former FBI agent on the run from his past.  Moving to Chicago to escape his former job, Campbell’s horror returns when a serial killer named David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves) tracks him to the city and continues his murders.  Now, Campbell is drawn back into the hunt for Griffin, and Griffin is now hunting him.  Griffin likes to watch his prey and has his eyes on Campbell.

Directed by Joe Charbanic, The Watcher was a horror thriller.  The movie’s production did have problems and Keanu Reeves later reported to papers that he was forced to do the film when a friend forged his signature on the contract (he claims he did the film to avoid a court battle).  Reeves was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance.


How’s it going?

With a positive review from Richard Roeper and James Spader always bringing something interesting to his roles, I had some hope for The Watcher as a tense thriller…which unfortunately was not the case.

I will give The Watcher this, it was a rather traditional cat-and-mouse investigation.  Instead of having Spader being crazy or being a suspect, the movie just had him investigating the crimes…there was never a doubt that he was wrong.  This has good and bad aspects and had me wishing that it was a better thriller since any suspicion of doubt was eliminated.

The acting is all over the place.  The film primarily comes down to the chemistry between Spader and Reeves and there is little chemistry.  Marisa Tomei is listed as one of the stars of the film but really has a smaller, supporting role (this is also fallout from Reeves legal battle which led to him listed as a supporting actor).  There is an odd role by Chris Ellis as the police investigator working with Spader, and it is unclear if his role is meant to be funny or if the character was meant to be taken seriously.  Ernie Hudson also has a minor role as the head of the department that is investigating the crimes.


Whoa…I’m like on fire…sort of

The movie looks horrible.  It is shot in a confusing way and looks cheap.  The movie goes into Keanu’s “vision” which sometimes moves at different speeds and sometimes resembles a camera…it is odd.  Add to that the ending of the film with a really bad looking CGI explosion, and you have a pretty weak looking film.

The Watcher isn’t a good film and isn’t a great thriller.  The movie is simply a blasé story with actors sleepwalking through their roles.  Normally Spader gives 100% to whatever he’s in but even he can’t help this limp movie.  The Watcher isn’t the worst film you’ll ever see, but it is easy to find better films.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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