The Watcher

on September 08, 2000 by Tim Cogshell
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   "The Watcher" is so utterly derivative of far superior serial killer thrillers--"The Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven" to name but two--that it almost doesn't deserve any notice at all. However, it's so much better than most recent films in the genre--particularly last year's "The Bone Collector"--that it shines by comparison.

   James Spader ("Supernova") is great as burnt-out FBI Agent Joel Campbell. Campbell is wickedly witty and droll, despite his addiction to several narcotics. On disability leave after making a fatal mistake while tracking a serial killer in Los Angeles, Campbell, now living in Chicago, finds that the same serial killer, Griffin (also played with a sardonic coolness by Keanu Reeves), has followed him to the Windy City and has started the game again. His technique is to send Agent Campbell a photograph of a woman he intends to kill, allowing him 12 hours to try to stop him.

   There is not a single original thought in "The Watcher," but as these things go, it's not awful. There are several solid supporting performances, including Marisa Tomei as Campbell's therapist and Chris Ellis ("October Sky") as a Southern-born police detective who has a colorful way with a phrase. Starring Keanu Reeves, James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Robert Cicchini, Ernie Hudson and Chris Ellis. Directed by Joe Charbanic. Written by David Elliot and Chris Ayers. Produced by David Elliot, Jeremy Lappen and Elliott Lewitt. A Universal release. Mystery/Thriller. Rated R for violence and language. Running time 98 min

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