The Watcher

Bomb Rating: 

Yes, it's Keanu Reeves as the bad guy. And if you'd like me to pull the other leg, just stick it out and I'll dangle a plump, pointy-eared Oprah off your shin. She's playing one of Santa's elves in an upcoming movie.

Keanu Reeves as the bad guy -- it's like casting Sean Astin to portray Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Frankly, I didn't get past this sobering decision until shortly after coffee the next day. All I could think was, "It's Bill & Ted's Excellent Killing Spree!" Hats off to Keanu though -- he manages to make it through the entire film without a "dude" or a "duh." If they had a "Special Oscars" for disadvantaged thespians, Keanu would truly merit an "Extra Special" award for such an achievement in range.

Keanu plays a serial killer who strangles young women with piano wire. The film reveals that it's Keanu right away, then turns its attention to the game of cat-and-mouse he plays with FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader). Given that Campbell has been tracking Allen Griffin (Reeves) for years with no results, one would think the FBI would give Campbell a job laundering underwear -- or at least assign him another case. Broken and psychologically damaged, Campbell moves from L.A. to Chicago just to get away from Griffin, but Griffin follows him. We know Campbell is a mess for two reasons: He's being counseled by Marisa Tomei, and his refrigerator is nearly empty. Isn't that how it always is? The cop with no personal life opens up his refrigerator door and it's empty or full of rotting food. This is the mediocre director's way of saying, "Hey, look how messed up this guy is." It's also a way of saying, "Hey, look at what a sorry director I am." Don't they get that?

It's about as clear as a dust storm as to why Griffin feels compelled to goad Campbell. He starts sending pictures of his unsuspecting female victims and giving Campbell 24 hours to find them before he kills them. The Chicago police and the FBI actually do a pretty good job of getting the word out, but naturally the girl and every one of her friends is looking the other way when the television is on. One girl almost gets away, except she decides to run into the most secluded, desolate building in Chicago, so Griffin can strangle her out of earshot of the pursuing cops (Memo to potential strangulation victims: Head for the populated areas when the killer is chasing you.) Much to the movie's credit, though, it does teach an excellent lesson for us all: When you see Keanu coming, run like hell.

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