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Watcher, The (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000030795
Added by: Mike Mclaughlin
Added on: 2/3/2002 03:16
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    Review of Watcher, The

    5 / 10


    This B-movie yarn posits a battle of wits between a serial-killer (Keanu Reeves) and a burnt out LA FBI Agent (James Spader.) Spader is still overcoming the emotional and physical scars of his last encounter with Reeves’ nutjob, that left his lover dead. After flitting over to the ‘crispy’ climate of the Windy City for a change of scenery he engages in a hardly subtle ‘professional’ relationship with inscrutable shrink Marisa Tomei, who listens patiently to his tale of woe. Meanwhile, Reeves is back doing what he does best, killing people in mechanically movie-like fashion leaving the cops to ponder over his motivations and his next victim.


    As good as you would expect from a fairly recent film, good colour and contrast, particularly since most of the film seems to occur at night… or maybe it just seemed that way.


    An efficient 5.1 track, however the electro-death soundtrack is perpetually annoying, and occasionally drowns out the dialogue.


    There’s no easy way to say this: not a damn thing.


    Ignoring for a moment the undeniable fact that this film (like most films of this genre) objectifies the female victims solely as objects of voyeuristic intent, this functions surprisingly well within its generic framework to create an enjoyably crude yarn. There is some suspense to be drained out of the familiar stalk-and-slash plot dynamics, and Spader makes for a surprisingly engaging lead. However, Reeves is woefully miscast: the role requires him to convince as an intelligent, charming, sadistic, sociopathic killer, and all old-Keanu can muster is a performance that amounts to his usual blank-faced ‘concentration’ and “Dude, I’m a serial killer!” mannerisms.

    The flashbacks to Spader’s tortured back-story in dilapidated squinty-frame-o-vision are a bit unnecessary, the fact that Reeves’ psychotic killer is murdering anonymous women clearly not motivation enough for Spader, whose moral quandary seems to be utterly abandoned in a muted, abrupt denouement. Also, Tomei, clad in unflattering sweaters and sagging bags under her eyes looks like she’s overcoming an all-consuming drug addiction, delivering her lines with an automaton’s enthusiasm. So, it’s overburdened with problems, is hopelessly unoriginal, exploitative and the overblown computer effects in the final scene are screamingly bad; but this film just manages to sustain its running time through a good central performance from Spader and the salacious elements of the genre brought home with the usual MTV zeal.

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