Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Watcher (2000)

Keanu Reeves didn't want to make this movie, and I can see why. The director was a friend and Keanu agreed to do a cameo in the movie as a favor. His name was then used to get Marisa Tomei and James Spader to sign on. Then the script was changed and Keanu's character became one of the central characters. His salary didn't increase, but he was obligated by contract to continue. This probably would have been fine, if it had been a well-written movie. By all accounts, Keanu doesn't usually choose his parts by how well they pay or how well they will be recieved. However, this film was not well-written and Keanu continued with it only on the condition that he would not have to promote it nor would he be featured prominently in promotional materials.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the film. Keanu plays a serial killer David Griffin who has a vendetta against cop Joel Campbell (played by James Spader). Marisa Tomei plays psychologist Polly Beilman who is counseling the Campbell due to a personal tragedy caused by serial killer Griffin. Griffin has moved across the country stalking Campbell, and he continues murdering young women and taunting Campbell with their deaths.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. A big showdown involving Griffin, Campbell, and Beilman is inevitable. Along the way, there are some intriguing plot twists, but the wild camera tricks, the loud distracting music and the poorly written script detract from the story. Keanu is not particularly believable as the sadistic serial killer, and James Spader seems lifeless as the cop. Many critics have suggested that the movie would have played better if their roles had been reversed, and I concur. Keanu can play a villain, but this wasn't his best performance as a bad guy. (See The Gift if you want a good example.)

I'm glad I saw it, but probably won't watch it again, and I definitely won't buy it. (As you can probably tell, I'm working my way through Keanu's filmography. )

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