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The Watcher (Widescreen) (Bilingual)

2.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Spader, Keanu Reeves, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis
  • Directors: Joe Charbanic
  • Writers: David Elliot, Clay Ayers, Darcy Meyers
  • Producers: Brian Benson, Christopher Eberts, Clark Peterson, David Elliot
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: Feb. 27 2001
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00003CXND
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,444 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Keanu Reeves ignites this action-packed, "superbly crafted thriller that zooms along like a sinister video game of hunter and prey!" (Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper and the Movies) After years of pursuing psychotic killers in Los Angeles, FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) wants out. And now his nemesis, serial killer David Allen Griffin (Reeves), has tracked him all the way to Chicago just to torment him. Before each murder, Griffin sends Campbell a photograph of his intended victim and dares him to find her before he strikes again. Now, with every tick of the clock, and amidst pulse-pounding action, this stone-cold killer turns up the heat. Co-starring Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei, this game of cat and mouse will have you gasping for breath from its first terrifying frame until its final explosive conclusion!

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

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Detective Joel Campbell (James Spader) had been tracking a serial killer (Keanu Reeves) for years, always one step behind and unable to catch him. This killer, nicknamed 'The Watcher', methodically stalked his victims and took his time killing them, a man who obviously enjoyed his work. Detective Campbell was obsessed with finding the killer until a special woman worked her way into his life. Unbeknownst to the detective, the Watcher was just as obsessed with Joel as Joel was with him. Convinced that the woman was coming between them, the Watcher made Joel's lover his next victim. Distraught and horrified, Joel retired to Chicago and tried to bury himself in pills and sleep to keep the nightmares at bay.
Bored with the new detective assigned to his case, the Watcher moved to Chicago to renew his relationship with Joel. At first, Joel wasn't willing to play so the Watcher changed the game. He would send a picture of his victim 24 hours before he killed her, giving Joel a fighting chance to save whomever he chose. Unable to resist the urge to try and rescue the innocent women that the Watcher was stalking, Joel found himself too late time and time again. Desperate, he turned to his psychologist, Dr. Polly Beilman (Marisa Tomei) for assistance, completely unaware that the Watcher was dogging his every step and watching his every move...
The Watcher was a decent psychological thriller, but nothing spectacular. I found James Spader completely convincing as a burned-out detective, but there was never really any spark of life that came, even when he was working on the case. He still seemed pretty detached and cold, even during the final scenes. This should have given Keanu Reeves a chance to really steal the show, but he was just not creepy enough in his role as the serial killer.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
This film feels more like a direct-to-video rather than a megaplex-worthy feature. This was probably originally billed as a James Spader movie, yet Keanu Reeves comes onto the scene and struggles to act the bad guy, alongside the other two, bit-part celebrities.
Keanu was originally never supposed to do this film. According to him, a friend faked his signature and signed the contract, forcing him to do the film for a much smaller actor's salary than he's used to. But thankfully for Keanu, his part as the bad guy, serial killer got extended, and he's in the movie a lot more than originally scripted.
Unfortunately, this movie comes across as being severely miscast. Keanu isn't really as evil as he was in The Gift, where he played another rare bad guy in his career. James Spader and Marisa Tomei are good in small doses, as supporting actors in other films, but they don't really light up the screen enough to succeed as lead actors.
There is virtually no suspense or insight in this and a lot of visual tricks are used to cover up what is lacking. It's pretty much known what is going to happen.
To give some of the plot away, this is one of the first films where Keanu dies. Sorry guys, but you know it's gonna happen, he's a serial killer. Of course, his character has never died in a movie, not that I know of anyway; I only have (unlucky) 13 of his films. Most of his earlier films haven't been released on DVD, and I suppose some of them I'll never get to see. I suppose you could technically say he died in Devil's Advocate, except afterwards it was like a dream, and it was what could have happened. And I suppose you could say he kinda died in the Matrix too.
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