The Watcher (2000) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Watcher (2000)



Critic Consensus: The Watcher has Keanu Reeves cast against type, but the movie is short on thrills, suspense, and believability.

Movie Info

A detective is urged on by the lunatic he's trying to put behind bars in this crime thriller. Joel Campbell (James Spader) is a police detective who has recently relocated to Chicago after spending eight frustrating years trying to track down a vicious serial killer who has been terrorizing Los Angeles. However, the slayer, David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves), doesn't want the game of cat and mouse to end; even though he previously put his murderous activities on hold, Griffin has started murdering young women again -- and is sending clues to Campbell, mailing him photos of his intended victims and urging Campbell to save them while he still can. Also starring Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, and Chris Ellis, The Watcher was directed by Joe Charbanic. It marked Charbanic's first feature project after directing videos for a number of alternative rock groups, including Soul Coughing, Sonic Youth, and Reeves' band, Dogstar. The film was produced under the title Driven. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (for violence and language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Joe Charbanic, Joe Charbanic, Darcy Meyers, David Elliott, Clay Ayers
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 2, 2003
Box Office: $28.6M
Universal Pictures


James Spader
as Joel Campbell
Keanu Reeves
as David Allen Griffin
Joe Sikora
as Skater
Dana Kozlov
as Anchorwoman
Butch Jerinic
as Flower Girl
Rebekah Arthur
as Business Woman
Sheila Lahey
as Wanda's Sister
Jason Wells
as Computer Tech
Lisa Velten Smith
as Photo Store Employee
Frederick Garcia
as Coffee Store Clerk
Mindy Suzanne Bell
as Supervising Agent
Varen Black
as Female Reporter
Tamara Tungate
as Young Woman
Quinn Yancy
as Campbell's Secretary
Jennifer Anglin
as Television Reporter
Peter J. Reinemann
as Motel Clerk
Rich Komenich
as Bloody Guy
Janelle Snow
as Waitress
Joe Forbrich
as Bennigan's Manager
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Watcher

Critic Reviews for The Watcher

All Critics (103) | Top Critics (30)

You can't buy Keanu as a sadist, but you do worry about the guys who wrote the screenplay.

Full Review… | April 25, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

First-time director Joe Charbanic seems to have watched too many music videos.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Associated Press
Top Critic

Has 'direct to video' stamped all over it.

January 1, 2000
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A shockingly, unbelievably bad movie.

January 1, 2000
Miami Herald
Top Critic

We can't ignore the lack of anything resembling substance or purpose in The Watcher.

January 1, 2000
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

Director Joe Charbanic is saddled with an emotionally empty script by David Elliot and Clay Ayers, which matches Reeves's emotionally empty performance quite nicely.

Full Review… | February 5, 2014
Georgia Straight

Audience Reviews for The Watcher

The Watcher is a fairly decent thriller, better at atmospherics than plot or characterization. It's a cat and mouse game featuring a relationship between the killer and the detective, somewhat like Eastwood's Bloodwork or the Danny Glover-Dennis Quaid thriller, Switchback. Keanu Reeves is seductive and creepy without being too stereotypical, while James Spader is excellent. He's such a good actor he makes anything he's in better. Reeves isn't capable of emotional depth, but he portrays enthusiasm convincingly here. Marisa Tomei is a great choice for Spader's girlfriend, but she's criminally underutilized in this movie.

The film is just too implausible, but I liked the overall atmosphere. The setting in Chicago is another great touch. Since the plot is so derivative or unoriginal that it is negligible, the film depends on its big budget and performances. On those points, it succeeds. This certainly isn't an outstanding film, but the 10% average doesn't do it justice either.

Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

Cast: James Spader, Keanu Reeves, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis, Robert Cicchini, Jenny McShane, Rich Komenich

Director: Joe Charbanic, Jeff Jensen

Summary: Burned out after failing to bust a sadistic serial killer in Los Angeles, FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) retires to Chicago. But the killer (Keanu Reeves) refuses to leave the lawman alone, and begins furnishing new clues designed to drive him mad. To motivate Campbell to rejoin the cat-and-mouse chase, the killer sends photos of his next victims. But it's up to Campbell to try to save them first.

My Thoughts: "I liked it. Thought it was a good thriller. It's just you see so many movies about serial killers they all start looking the same. But I enjoyed Keanu Reeves playing the bad guy. Love him, Spader and Tomei. They were my reasons for watching this flick. They all did a great job. The movie is never slow, and it keeps you interested all the way through. Good rental."


Super Reviewer

Tense, twisting plot, great ending. The relationship between the characters in this crime drama sets it apart from other serial killer movies. In fact, I would have like another 15 minutes in the movie to bring out these relationship even more. I would have like a little more elaboration on what happened in the past between James Spader and Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays as the serial killer is very well.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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