David Allen Griffin is a cool killer- time and time again, he chooses a female victim, studies her for weeks till he knows her routine to the smallest detail, makes meticulous preparations ...
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Neal Cassady is living the beat life during the 1940s, working at The Tire Yard and and philandering around town. However, he has visions of a happy life with kids and a white picket fence.... See full summary »
An aimless young man who is scalping tickets, gambling and drinking, agrees to coach a Little League team from the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago as a condition of getting a loan from a friend.
Unaware of its terrible history, a young couple purchases their dream home. But it soon becomes clear that they may not be alone in the house... and that someone -- or something -- is determined to drive them out.
David Allen Griffin is a cool killer- time and time again, he chooses a female victim, studies her for weeks till he knows her routine to the smallest detail, makes meticulous preparations using his forensic knowledge to gain entry when she's quite alone, subdues her and administers a long, torturous death. Joel Campbell got so frustrated by his failure to capture Griffin in Los Angeles, that he quit the FBI, moved to Chicago, and remains in psychiatric therapy, unable to function normally. Then he realizes, when opening his mail very late, that a new murder victim is Griffin's, and the killer sent him pictures of her. Campbell reports this to the police, but is unwilling to join them in the search, suggesting Griffin is too slick and clever; yet he won't get out of it that easily. Written by
Third-billed Keanu Reeves gave his verbal agreement to director Joe Charbanic several years before production started, after reading his original script. With his involvement, the filmakers were later able to attract a bigger cast and budget than originally envisioned, and Reeves' part (originally meant as little more than a cameo) was substantially re-written to feature him more prominently. Reportedly, Keanu Reeves, who would be paid scale while his co-stars James Spader and Marisa Tomei would get one million dollar paychecks, tried to drop out of the film, but eventually changed his mind (apparently influenced by the legal precedent of the Kim Basinger/Boxing Helena (1993) debacle). He eventually agreed to do the picture and abstain from bad mouthing it in interviews, on the condition that his involvment in the film be downplayed in all promotional material for the film, including trailers. See more »
All the fuel on the floor would have caused explosive vapors to fill the room long before it was lit by candles being knocked to the floor, and the candles would have already lit the vapors. See more »
[frustrated that victim never saw her bulletin picture on TV]
Ellie Buckner. Single, 24, parents live in Florida. So far no known boy friend. She has a cat named Frank. Apparently he doesn't watch the news.
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Joel Campbell (James Spader) is an FBI agent on leave. He literally "left" his home base in Los Angeles, defeated, because of a particularly hairy case involving an unusually devious, crafty and risk-loving serial killer who went by the name of David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves). The Watcher begins with Campbell resettled in Chicago, trying to put his life back in order. But what will happen when Griffin shows up in the Windy City? This is an unusual film in many ways. Although on one level it's a fairly standard thriller with Reeves playing a subtly twisted baddie, it's really a complex psychological portrait that focuses more on Spader as Campbell.
Campbell's life is a mess in Chicago. He can't work and he can barely take care of himself. He looks and feels miserable. His apartment reflects his life--though sparse in content, it's extremely unkempt and unhealthy looking. He is having continual nightmares. He has to inject himself in the stomach with prescription drugs to get over panic attacks and to enable at least a couple hours sleep at night. Of course Campbell is making regular visits to a psychiatrist, Dr. Polly Beilman (Marisa Tomei).
He became such a wreck because of being wrapped up so long with the Griffin case. Griffin regularly toyed with Campbell, communicating with him and even giving him clues so that Campbell would be able to almost but not quite beat Griffin to the punch. Amusingly, director Joe Charbanic portrays Griffin as more well adjusted and much more focused than Campbell.
As Dr. Beilman discerns, Griffin was Campbell's raison d'etre for so long--almost his sole concern--that abandoning the case resulted in Campbell effectively abandoning his life. Thus Charbanic gives us a clever, ethically gray twist. Griffin may be beneficial to Campbell; he may be the only one who can get him back on track. Likewise, Griffin is shown to be a bit lost without Campbell. It creates a fascinating psychological dependency in a twisted relationship that mirrors the two other male-female relationships that propel the plot, providing a subtext about co-dependency and slightly off-kilter, questionably healthy relationships in general.
Although Reeves is often criticized for his acting ability, The Watcher is an excellent example of what that is unjustified. It's not that Reeves doesn't have range. It's that he's extremely subtle. He's not an actor to chew scenery. His Griffin is really just as psychotic as, say, De Niro's Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) or Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980), but Reeves isn't usually one to maniacally chop down a door with an axe and crazily intone "Heeeere's Johnny", you have to watch him closer than that to see the character. Even when he's in full action mode, either as a killer, as he is here, or as a superhero, as in The Matrix (1999), Reeves is all about a kind of quiet control. It's not a better or worse style than De Niro or Nicholson, just different. Spader also gives a finely tuned performance. As the character requirements have it, he's a fine complement for Reeves, somewhat paralleling Reeves' style, somewhat providing a counterpoint.
The film has interesting things to say about anonymity in modern societies, especially big cities. Griffin is able to play the games he does only because so many people are faceless and ignored.
Charbanic films The Watcher with a unique visual style can be "arty"--especially during the flashbacks--and conventionally build suspense at the same time. He's also aided by a great score (including a couple brief snippets of Reeves "dancing" to Rob Zombie) and attractive production design.
The Watcher isn't the typical "10 out of 10" film, as its surface gloss is more pedestrian than the usual film of that caliber. But if you dig just a little deeper, you'll find gold.
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