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The Watcher (I) (2000)

5.3
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 20,181 users   Metascore: 22/100
Reviews: 177 user | 101 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

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 ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Ibby
...
Hollis
...
Mitch
Yvonne Niami ...
Lisa
...
Diana (as Jennifer McShane)
Gina Alexander ...
Sharon
Rebekah Louise Smith ...
Ellie (as Rebakah Louise Smith)
...
Skater (as Joe Sikora)
...
Jessica
Michele DiMaso ...
Rachel (as Michelle Dimaso)
...
Jack Fray
...
Norton
Edit

Storyline

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 LA 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 send 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 KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't go home alone. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

8 September 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Driven  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£470,787 (UK) (9 March 2001)

Gross:

ESP 244,682,968 (Spain) (29 June 2001)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During production, the film was called "Driven", but Universal decided to change the title to "The Watcher" when the Stallone racing drama with the same name was announced. See more »

Goofs

When Campbell takes the cab from the hospital to the cemetery, the first long shot shows the cab as a Ford Taurus, but the next shot shows a Chevrolet Caprice. See more »

Quotes

Joel Campbell: It's never quite that easy. You go through the door, and they're never just sitting there waiting for you with a welcoming smile on their face. best you can do is hope they fuck up and do what you can to be there when they do.
Dr. Polly Beilman: And then blame yourself for the killings?
Joel Campbell: Oh, no. I blame the asshole who did them.
See more »

Connections

References The Price Is Right (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

ROADS
Written by Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, Adrian Utley
Performed by Portishead
Courtesy of Go! Beat/London Records 90 Limited
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating psychological portrait
12 March 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

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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