With a script that's a morass of serial killer clichés and a director who goes overboard with flashy camera work, The Watcher should be a flat-out bomb. The film is elevated above its typically lurid and insipid genre brethren, however, by a pair of performances from leads Keanu Reeves and James Spader, each cast against type and sinking his teeth into the opportunity to expand his range. Spader utilizes his trademark feline grace and piercing intensity in the service of something other than a villainous yuppie role, instead adding a layer of exhausted frustration to portray a heroic figure subtly bemused by his predicament. Reeves struggles with his role as a murderer, at times seeming uncertain if his character is evil or merely deranged, but he displays a ferocity and humor previously lacking in even his action-movie roles. Unfortunately, the work of the film's two stars is mostly wasted by overly flashy music-video director Joe Charbanic, in the service of a story that's predictable and derivative.
by Karl Williams review