Keanu Reeves turns up the heat as a stone cold serial killer playing a sadistic game of cat and mouse with a burnt-out FBI agent (James Spader). This action-packed thriller zooms along against a wild backdrop of twisted streets, screaming sirens and pure adrenaline!
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