The stars of THE WATCHER have had interesting and varied careers. James Spader who burst on the scene in SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE and then went on to such flicks as SUPER NOVA, JACK'S BACK and the current tv series THE PRACTICE, plays Joel Campbell with a sense of emotional detachment and fierce reserve. He's almost like a powder keg waiting to erupt. For me, there was no cathartic eruption, and I felt Campbell should have been played by a more intense and complex actor, say like Sean Penn or Colin Farrell. Even so, Spader is effective in those scenes where this detachment works. He just doesn't bring any real intensity to his performance.
Keanu Reeves, ah, what can one say about this attractive if dramatically challenged thespian? Think of him in BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE...or DANGEROUS LIAISONS or BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA...or most all of his films. As animated as a cucumber. But, there is hope, I think. While far from great in this role, he does bring a lot of life to his role, which is surprisingly underwritten. But if he can achieve this type of talent as also displayed in THE GIFT, Keanu may become an actor yet.
Marisa Tomei of course won everyone's puzzled surprise when she won an Oscar for MY COUSIN VINNY. Remember---they even said that the actor presenting the award read the wrong name. Well, Marisa remained dormant for a while until she came back with her strong Oscar nominated performance for IN THE BEDROOM. Alas and alack, there's not much Tomei does in this role. Embarassingly underwritten, Tomei serves little purpose and shows little emotion in this psychiatrist role.
With all that in mind, it's still a very entertaining, tense serial killer thriller. The victims are all worth feeling for, and Reeves' brutal nonchalance is chilling. Joe Cherbanic's direction is erratically captivating and Marco Baltremi's score is eclectically satisfying.
THE WATCHER is a good movie; it just could have been better with three other actors.