Critics Consensus

Nightwatch loses much of what made its inspiration entertaining - and proves that when remaking a foreign film, hiring the original director is no guarantee of success.



Total Count: 29


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,329
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Nightwatch Photos

Movie Info

Like The Vanishing (1988 and 1993), Nightwatch is an English-language version of a foreign-made film with the original director hired to remake his own movie. Ole Bornedal was the writer-director of the suspenseful 1994 thriller, Nattevagten, which had no U.S. release immediately on the heels of its success in Denmark. For the second time around, Bornedal directed, but Steven Soderbergh wrote a new script based on Bornedal's original film. Both were produced by Michael Obel. Nattevagten was Bornedal's directorial debut, and reviews praised the film for the claustrophobic atmospherics and suspense generated from the very first establishing scene. For the 1998 English-language remake, the artistic elements of the original gave way to name actors, slicker production values, and the more conventional grindhouse genre approach, opening with a brutal prostitute murder in a pre-credit sequence. University student Martin (Ewan McGregor) ignores warnings to take a city-morgue night watchman job for extra cash. Odd happenings at the morgue are linked to a serial killer, and Inspector Thomas Cray (Nick Nolte) investigates. Soon Martin's girlfriend Katherine (Patricia Arquette) learns that Martin has become a key suspect. However, some might suspect Martin's edgy friend James (Josh Brolin). Brad Dourif fills the role of a doctor, and young Alix Koromzay portrays vulnerable teen hooker Joyce.

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Ewan McGregor
as Martin Bells
Nick Nolte
as Insp. Thomas Cray
Josh Brolin
as James Gallman
John C. Reilly
as Insp. Bill Davis
Erich Anderson
as Newscaster
Brad Dourif
as Duty Doctor
Scott Burkholder
as College Professor
Michael Matthys
as Guy in Pub
Alison Gale
as Girlfriend of Guy in Pub
as Pub Thug
Candy Brown Houston
as Female Paramedic
Michelle Csitos
as Leanne Singer
Lennie Loftin
as Man in Theater
Bradley Gregg
as Theater Actor
Nicholas Sadler
as Theater Director
Jeff Davis
as Stagehand
Nicholas Cascone
as Male Paramedic
Ben Skortstad
as Helicopter Pilot
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Critic Reviews for Nightwatch

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for Nightwatch

  • Sep 22, 2012
    If they would have just stuck to the Ewan McGregor being scared at work premise, this movie would have been so much better...cuz that was fantastic, scary, and funny! Unfortunately, they decided to try to add a strange storyline with Nick Nolte. Not a good decision...
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 22, 2012
    Nightwatch offers some creepy moments, and is appropriately atmospheric, but suffers from an ill-conceived plot. There's too many cliches, and not enough originality. Still, the cast and generally effective direction keeps it interesting enough, though not particularly memorable. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2009
    Nick Nolte for all intents and purposes looking like Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster but without the use of makeup is police inspector Thomas Cray who's in charge of a special police task force trying to find and capture, dead or alive, a serial killer. The killer for some weird reason has a habit of cutting out the eyes of his dead victims, all women, and then raping their corpses. It seems that the killer wants to quit the business of serial killing but at the same time wants the police and the law to leave him alone and stop hunting him down so he can enjoy his retirement. This sets up the story for young law student Martin Bell, Ewan McGeror, who just got a job at the local medical examiner building as a night watchman where all the recent murder victims of the killers are kept. The killer plans to frame young Martin as can then be free from being tracked down and arrested for the crimes that Martin will be jailed for. "Nightwatch" has it's share of cheap thrills and a number of twists and turns in it's story but their very unconvincing in how the killer, who you can spot almost as soon as you see him, is so hard for the police to find when his actions are so insane and weird just like those of the murderer. The film-makers put two people into roles that would make you think that their the real killer of the people in the movie. One is so obvious that you just know that he didn't do it and is just a red herring put into the movie to get you and the police off the track of the real killer. There's also a fact that he, the killer, once worked in the medical examiner's office some time ago and was dismissed for messing around with the corpses. All that is in the medical examiners record department which should have been a dead give away to everyone involved just too who he really is. There's also some scenes in the movie that focus on a photo of Lewis Paine, thats pinned to the wall in the night watchman's office one of the people executed for the murder of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. This seems to indicate to the audience that he, or his ghost, may have something to do with the killings but in the end nothing ever comes of it and he's completely forgotten There's also a very mixed-up sub-plot in the movie between Martin's friend James, Josh Brolin, and a girl he picked up at the local bus station Joyce, Alix Koromzay,who he's trying to get Martin to have an affair with her. This moronic attempt by James is to give him a high since it seems that the normal high he used to get with women by having sex is no longer there and even having the hell beat out of him to get high doesn't work either. Joyce's relations with Martin, which are almost next to nothing, has his girlfriend Kathy, Pat Arquette, leave him and in the end. Sure enough Joyce ends up being a victim of the on the loose serial killer and Martin, becomes the prime suspect just like the killer wanted in the crime. The ending of "Nightwatch" had the usual damsel as well as good guy both in distress with the crazed killer having them both tied down on a table in the mortuary and about to cut both their skulls open with an electric slicer. It's then when the person who was made to look like the killer during the entire movie coming to their rescue, minus a thumb, blasting the real killer away and sending him to his just reward. "Nightwatch" is a watchable horror/suspense movie but it's hard to take seriously at all due it it's very predictable and unconvincing story and the killer is so obvious that you can easily spot him well before the movie reveals his true identity. Inspector Thomas Cray: Have you ever been killed before? I'll be back in a minute. Martin Bells: Don't you see it, that's all I've gotta do. Just sit on my ass. Sit. On. My. Ass. Martin Bells: You're a fucking nutcase! James Gallman: That's Mr. Fucking Nutcase to you! Katherine: You had strange dreams last night. Martin Bells: I did? Katherine: Mmm. You were breathing really heavily. Kept kicking your legs and moaning. Martin Bells: You sure we weren't having sex? Katherine: Pretty sure. Yeah. Martin: You're insane! James: No, I'm not. Martine Bells: [Of James' thumb] : Does it hurt? [James smiles] Martin Bells: Let's grow old together. James: Let's get older. Martin Bells: Now, there's a challenge. Martin Bells: The police have a suspect. James Gallman: Who is it? Martin Bells: It's me. Katherine: Oh my god. Martin Bells: This just doesn't happen! This is not happening! Cray, why are you doing this? What the hell are you doing? Inspector Thomas Cray: Stop asking for the "how" and "why" Martin! Martin Bells: How do you know it's just the one guy? Inspector Thomas Cray: Can I trust you? Martin Bells: Well yeah, absolutely. Inspector Thomas Cray: Can I trust you with a bit of privileged information? Martin Bells: Oh yeah. Inspector Thomas Cray: He has his signature. Martin Bells: Signature? Inspector Thomas Cray: He takes their eyes. Inspector Thomas Cray: Most people, when they see something like this, their immediate reaction is to ask how could somebody do this and why. Even when we catch the killer, they want to know the how and why. In movies or television, the killer always explains the how or why. He always has some reason, however crazy, with a mad gleam in his eye. But I've interrogated murderers like this one before, and let me tell you, they are well beyond the need to justify what they do. They just do it. Explanations are just a fiction to make us feel safe. Because if it can't be explained, then it's just meaningless chaos. It could touch any one of us at any moment. Which is exactly what it is. Inspector Thomas Cray: Martin, if all this is what I think it is, there is someone very dangerous standing right behind you in the dark, breathing down your neck.
    †HorrorFan† . Super Reviewer
  • May 29, 2008
    Very eerie movie, I couldnt figure out who was the murderer until the end.
    Amanda . Super Reviewer

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