"Hard to Watch"
What You Need To Know:
THE WATCHER unfolds much like last year’s THE BONE COLLECTOR. The psychotic killer leaves a clue, and the brilliant, but always just a second too late, FBI agents have a day to find the woman before she is killed. Marisa Tomei plays Dr. Polly Beillman, Campbell’s psychiatrist friend who becomes a target in Griffin’s sick world. THE WATCHER is an unoriginal movie that obviously combines elements from other successful movies. Excessive foul language and unnecessary gruesome violence litter THE WATCHER, making it very hard to watch.
(PaPa, LLL, VVV, N, A, DD, M) Pagan worldview depicting psychotic behavior & gruesome killings; excessive foul language including 33 strong obscenities, 4 mild obscenities, & 2 profanities; strong amount of violence including dead women shown with blood on necks from being strangled, man grabs women and throws them around the room violently, man ties women up, man is hit by car, man shoots at car, woman hits man with a stereo, man grabs young man violently, man throws young man against a wall, men are burned & killed in an explosion, woman is caught in a fire, man is shot in the leg, man is hit with a gun & punched, man is stabbed with sharp object & shot in the arm, & people are blown out of a tall building; mild sexual elements include Victoria’s Secret catalog with semi-nude women & sketches of nude women; alcohol use; smoking & man takes many pills; and, stalking.
In THE WATCHER, FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader), travels from Los Angeles to Chicago to escape the memories of a demented killer that haunt him to his core. David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves) is a psychotic murderer of young lonely women who has just followed Campbell to Chicago to continue his sick game.
THE WATCHER is a frightening story about the way in which Griffin stalks these women like prey before he enters their homes and strangles them to death. Griffin enjoys the thrill of the game and is content when agent Campbell is on the case. When gruesome murder cases begin to pop up in Campbell’s area, he knows that Griffin has followed him. Griffin attempts to get Campbell to take the case once again by directly involving him. Griffin sends Campbell pictures of the women he is about to kill, hoping that it will inspire the responsible side in him to take action to try and save them.
Amid flashbacks of a previous encounter with Griffin in Los Angeles, the movie begins to unfold much in the same way as the recent movie, THE BONE COLLECTOR. The psychotic killer leaves a clue, in this case a picture of his next victim, and the brilliant, but always just a second too late, FBI agents have a day to find the woman before she is killed. THE WATCHER portrays Campbell as a depressed and haunted man, who must take high doses of sleeping pills and other drugs in order to get any rest or comfort. Griffin is a demented man with no conscience and a desire to torture women with fear. As the predictable plot continues, the movie introduces the audience to Dr. Polly Beillman (Marisa Tomei), Campbell’s psychiatrist and friend. There seems to be some romantic tendencies that the two share toward each other, but that is never fully resolved. She turns out to be a probable victim when Griffin begins to watch Campbell and infiltrate his life. The remainder of the movie follows Griffin in his attempt to outrun the FBI and succeed in his wrongdoings. Campbell, of course, is always a step behind.
Keanu Reeves gives a mediocre performance. His main goal for the movie seems to limit his vocabulary to vulgarities and poorly timed clichés. Although James Spader wins for most improved actor in this movie, that is most likely the only thing he will win for THE WATCHER. Tomei’s part was minor, which was a disappointment. It would have added a lot to the movie if the relationship between agent Campbell and Dr. Beillman had been further developed. The acting was dull, and the sound effects and flashback scenes in the movie were difficult to endure. There are many stomach-turning scenes which clearly show the dead bodies of the killer’s victims. This was director Joe Charbanic’s and three of the four screenwriters’ first feature film experience, and it shows.
Finally, there were noticeable elements that had been lifted from other films, such as FIGHT CLUB and, as earlier mentioned, THE BONE COLLECTOR. Overall, the movie was more depressing than it was scary, and a disappointment from Reeves after his success with THE MATRIX.