12 July 2001 | chrisbrown6453
The Watcher portrays the somewhat symbiotic relationship between hero and villain and it explores the peculiar means of communication that develop between the two.
After being identified and harassed by the elusive serial killer David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves), the distressed FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) moves to Chicago from Los Angeles in order to secure his own safety and peace of mind. However, tormented by the anguish of past failures, Campbell is unable to ameliorate his physical and mental health and his bruised existence is again challenged by Griffin's reappearance in Chicago. Amused and motivated by Campbell's compassion toward all female victims, Griffin (who spies on lonely women and then kills them) heightens the stakes of his hide-and-seek game with Campbell by sending him a photograph of the intended victim of the day, thus testing his ability to save her. However, when Griffin's final defiance involves Campbell's psychologist (Marisa Tomei), the two test each other's limits.
The Watcher follows its two main characters intimately, often detailing the mechanics of Griffin's moves through Campbell's point of view as an observer who must solve a mystery. By depicting Campbell's dependence on painkillers, for example, The Watcher successfully transmits the deteriorated mental and physical state of this protagonistic character. The Watcher is most intriguing when it attempts to portray a society that --through its indifference-- creates its own victims and delivers, so to speak, the loneliest and most vulnerable to their executioner. The Watcher uses this notion of people's unwillingness to help and builds its suspense by simultaneously emphasizing the protagonist's struggles to beat the murderer's deadline. Furthermore, The Watcher successfully defines both protagonist and antagonist as "the watcher" of the other, thus suggesting a somewhat sado-masochistic bond between the two. In spite of this success, The Watcher relies on an excess of repeated flashbacks in the form of highly stylized, often blurry, shots that depict Campbell's previous interaction with Griffin. This choice weakens The Watcher's attempts to establish realism around both characters' past connection, and loosens the otherwise tight pace of the plot.
The watcher hits on both a realistic level, and an entertaining level never before reached with a movie starring Keanu Reeves.