The Watcher


The Watcher

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 89


Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,593
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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, Rovi


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
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Critic Reviews for The Watcher

All Critics (89) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (80)

Audience Reviews for The Watcher

  • May 06, 2014
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2012
    Dull Keanu in a dull film. It seems like I've seen hundreds of these. Yeah yeah, dramatic tension if you can suspend your disbelief significantly. Bordering on a waste of time.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2009
    This film is unique in it's approach towards the serial killer story. Does it draw you in? Yes it does. Does it give you a dark, foreboding and sinister story? Oh you bet it does! The Watcher is an extremely entertaining if not almost borderline on brilliant film making on a rare and unique scale. This film embodies a certain flare and style that you have to be open minded and somewhat of a serial Killer thriller lover to really appreciate this film style and grandeur of it to see the murky and dark brilliance that lays beneath it all. This movie is not a particularly mind blowing SK thriller but it does have it's moments that it really jumps out at you and there are a few moments in the movie that you just jump in fright and that's when you know your watching a good thriller. Keanu( Who I thought was good in this as the SK but not quite good enough.) turns in a rather impressive performance as David Alan Griffin a man who lives to kill, a man who thrives on taking away another' s life. A man who lurks in the shadows and watches you and admires you like a cat before he kills a mouse Keanu's serial killer was ingenious in his planning and his methods were very smart and clean but what lacked here was the fact that none of his victim's had an adverse affect on the story, that was the only let down but besides that it was interesting to watch him work. James Spader plays a very convincing cop in this film, but not to convincing there are some scenes where you see almost no emotion or empathy for the victims of Griffin at all but that is easy to put to the side what redeems Spader in this film is his relentless chase of Griffin and his iron determination to bring him down. That's what saves Spader and that's what makes it fun to watch him work. Marisa Tomei this film could have done with out she really lowered the standards with her bland and very bad performance as the compassionate Psychiatrist( I mean she won an oscar for crying out loud!! She can do better than than this!) she really made it almost a drag to see her on screen (but hey at least she's nice to look at.) all in all she was the main weak point in this film not Keanu. When you over look the main outer layers of the story and get dug and see the inner layers you can fully comprehend and see the near greatness of this film and the great style it brings to the the thriller genre all in all The Watcher delivers great edge of your seat, blow out the lights entertainment you can't over look. Basically this film flat out rocks.
    C.R. L Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2009
    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."

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