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"THE WATCHER"
(2000) (James Spader, Keanu Reeves) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Heavy Extreme Heavy Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Extreme *None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor None Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Suspense/Thriller: A burned-out FBI agent must find a serial killer who's toying with him by sending photos of his victims who will die within one day if the agent can't find them or him.
PLOT:
Joel Campbell (JAMES SPADER) is a burned-out FBI agent who's moved from Los Angeles to Chicago hoping to erase the psychological trauma and memories of his time spent hunting down psychotic killers. As such, he's seeing Dr. Polly Peilman (MARISA TOMEI), a young psychologist who's trying to help him work out his problems and relieve his migraine headaches and dependency on the prescription drugs that help get him from day to day.

When a young woman is murdered in his apartment building and he then finds that someone mailed her picture to him days before, Campbell suddenly realizes that a nemesis of his from the past, David Allen Griffin (KEANU REEVES), has apparently followed him to the windy city. It seems that Griffin's serial murder spree isn't enough for him, and thus he begins taunting Campbell by sending him photos of his future victims, informing the agent that he only has one day to save her.

With the help of detectives Hollis Mackey (CHRIS ELLIS) and Mitch Casper (ROBERT CICCHINI), Campbell then sets out to find and stop Griffin before he strikes again, all while realizing that the killer has sucked him into a manipulative game of cat and mouse.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast (especially Reeves) or of serial killer-based suspense/thrillers, they probably will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JAMES SPADER plays a burned-out FBI agent who finds himself pulled back into the fray when Griffin lures him into a deadly game of cat and mouse. He uses strong profanity and appears somewhat addicted to prescription medication (that he takes to alleviate his mental and physical pain).
  • KEANU REEVES plays a serial killer who enjoys playing a cat and mouse game with Campbell that involves him stalking and then killing many young women.
  • MARISA TOMEI plays Campbell's psychologist who tries to help him sort out his problems.
  • CHRIS ELLIS plays a middle-aged, but gung-ho detective who helps Campbell in trying to find and stop Griffin.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this R-rated suspense/thriller. Violence is rated as extreme due to the handiwork of a serial killer who stalks and kills various women (using piano wire with bloody results, although many of his crimes take place off camera or in brief silhouette), along with other non-lethal acts. That killer obviously has an extreme case of bad attitudes, while his actions and other moments in the film (often accompanied by suspenseful music) might also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.

    Profanity is also listed as extreme due to at least 26 uses of the "f' word, while various other profanities and colorful phrases are also used. Some brief, sexually explicit dialogue also occurs and we learn (but don't see) that a character was having an affair with a married woman. We briefly see some photos of lingerie models (in a Victoria's Secret catalogue) as well as some art/modeling sketches of nude women. Some drinking occurs while the protagonist appears to be somewhat hooked on prescription medication, and a few people briefly smoke.

    Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may wish to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for specific examples of what occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Campbell appears to be addicted (to some extent) to the prescription drugs he takes for his mental & physical maladies.
  • In a flashback, we see some drinks by Campbell and a woman.
  • Some miscellaneous men in a restaurant have drinks, while Campbell has a beer.
  • Hollis has a beer with his dinner.
  • Campbell finds Griffin drinking beer in a cemetery (he offers Campbell one, but he doesn't drink it).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • As we see a woman's feet just touching the floor, we see drops of blood hitting the floor and then being smeared by her feet.
  • Griffin washes blood from his gloved hands in a sink and we see just a touch of blood on his chin.
  • We hear Campbell vomit and then see him inject a syringe of pain medication into his abdomen that's deeply bruised, apparently from many previous injections.
  • We see a dead woman lying on the floor. There's blood on her neck and chest as well as on the floor around her.
  • We a split-second shot of a victim's bloody neck.
  • We see another victim's body lying on the floor with a pool of blood next to her.
  • We see some dried drops of blood on a business card.
  • A person's leg is a bit bloody after they've been shot there.
  • We briefly see a person's bloody and possibly somewhat charred looking face (at night and in some water).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Griffin obviously has extreme cases of both for being a serial killer and taunting Campbell (as well as stealing a car, causing property damage and being responsible for several other deaths).
  • We see a miscellaneous character who's stolen a car.
  • We learn that Campbell had an affair with a married woman in the past.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling and/or suspenseful to viewers.
  • As Campbell states in voiceover how Griffin works, we see a visualization of that, with a woman coming home at night and walking around her dark house before Griffin grabs her from behind and pulls her out of the camera shot. Later, we see some blood dripping/being smeared on the floor and then learn that he killed this woman.
  • We see various flashbacks of Campbell going into a burning building trying to save a bound woman, and then chasing Griffin (all shot in a disorienting fashion with suspenseful music playing).
  • With us knowing that Griffin is lurking about somewhere in her home, we see his next intended victim return home and move about her house as suspenseful music plays.
  • At night, Griffin approaches his next victim who hits him on the head with a radio. She then flees and eventually hides as he chases her through the underbelly of the city as Campbell and others race toward the scene, hoping to get there in time.
  • Campbell then chases Griffin across rooftops and other areas in an extended chase sequence.
  • As the police race toward their location, Campbell must deal with Griffin and the fact that he's rigged his next victim to die via burning/an explosion (from many lit candles sitting next to kerosene and gas).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Assault weapons/Shotguns: Carried and/or used to threaten or wound people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Piano wire: Used by Griffin to kill his victims.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck up," "Whenever the f*ck I please," "What the f*ck do you want from me?" "Shut the f*ck up," "F*ck me," "Take your f*cking hands off her," "I don't give a sh*t," "No sh*t" "Shut up," "Who the hell is that?" "Freaking," "Bitching," "What the hell is that?" and "Bitch."
  • We see that Griffin has rigged a shotgun attached to a string around a door (so that if someone opens the door, the shotgun will fire at them).
  • We also see that he's bound one of his victims near some spilled kerosene and lit candles, thus threatening to burn her alive.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous and suspenseful music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None that we heard, but a few songs have lyrics that could not be understood (thus opening the possibility that something objectionable could possibly be in them).
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 26 "f" words (1 used sexually), 10 "s" words, 6 hells, 4 asses (2 used with "hole"), 3 damns, 2 craps, 1 S.O.B., 3 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use of For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see a few pictures of women in their bras and panties in a Victoria's Secret catalogue that Campbell briefly looks through.
  • We see various art/modeling sketches of nude women that show full frontal nudity.
  • Hollis briefly jokes about what he'd give if he had twenty minutes at a drive-in with an attractive woman he and Campbell briefly talk about.
  • Griffin asks Campbell (about a woman he was having an affair with), "Why didn't you tell anyone you were f*cking her?"
  • SMOKING
  • One of the victims smokes, as does a miscellaneous man in a restaurant.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Serial killers and how those who pursue them would be subject to burnout, as is the case here with Campbell.
  • VIOLENCE
  • As Campbell states in voiceover how Griffin works, we see a visualization of that, with a woman coming home at night and walking around her dark house before Griffin grabs her from behind and pulls her out of the camera shot. Later, we see some blood dripping/being smeared on the floor and then learn that he killed this woman.
  • Hollis jumps and lands on a fleeing suspect, knocking him to the pavement where he then holds his foot on him.
  • We see a quick shot of Griffin grabbing his next victim and then a silhouette of him strangling her/cutting her throat with piano wire (as she struggles).
  • As Griffin tries to drive away and bashes into several other cars, Campbell fires several shots at him, with one shattering a window in the car.
  • Griffin approaches his next victim who hits him on the head with a radio.
  • Campbell grabs a potential witness by his tie and pulls him across the street. Hollis then grabs a young man and pushes him against a car, with Campbell then taking him and slamming him back against a wall (to make him talk).
  • We see the silhouette of Griffin strangling/cutting a woman's throat with piano wire.
  • Campbell fires several shots at Griffin while chasing him.
  • Griffin uses an old toilet to shatter a car's window so that he can get inside and hotwire/steal the car.
  • Several cars crash into each other during a chase sequence.
  • Griffin then ends up driving over several fuel pumps at a gas station. He then throws out a lighter that ignites the spilled fuel, causes several pursuing police cars to crash and catch on fire/explode and then for the entire gas station to explode (we later hear that three officers were killed).
  • Campbell briefly holds his gun on Griffin.
  • Griffin briefly knocks out Campbell with a blow to the head.
  • A person holds a gun to another person's head, then to a third person's chin, and then shoots that second person in the leg. He then backhands that person as well, before wrapping piano wire around that third person's throat and nearly strangling her.
  • A person jabs something into another person's body and then shoots him with a shotgun (hitting that person in the shoulder).
  • An explosion knocks down/potentially injures several law enforcement officers and we see another person completely engulfed in flames.
  • An explosion rips apart several floors of a building and kills one person.



  • Reviewed September 5, 2000 / Posted September 8, 2000

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