The Watcher (film)

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The Watcher
The Watcher theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Joe Charbanic
Produced by Christopher Eberts
Elliott Lewitt
Jeff Rice
Clark Peterson
Written by Darcy Meyers
David Elliot
Clay Ayers
Starring James Spader
Marisa Tomei
Ernie Hudson
Chris Ellis
Keanu Reeves
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Michael Chapman
Edited by Richard Nord
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • September 8, 2000 (2000-09-08)
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $47,267,829 (Worldwide)[1]

The Watcher is a 2000 American thriller film directed by Joe Charbanic and starring James Spader, Marisa Tomei and Keanu Reeves. Set in Chicago, the film is about a retired FBI agent who is stalked and taunted by a serial killer.


In Los Angeles, FBI Special Agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) is moments too late to save a young woman from a serial killer he has been investigating, who escapes. Campbell quits his job and moves to Chicago, where he is plagued by guilt-induced migraines. Campbell attends therapy sessions with Dr. Polly Beilman (Marisa Tomei), but otherwise has no friends or social life.

Campbell learns that a woman who lived in his apartment building has been murdered. He does not pay it much attention until he opens his mail and finds that a picture of the woman had been sent to his apartment three days before the murder. He brings this information to the attention of the detective on the case, Det. Mackie (Chris Ellis), and comes to the conclusion that the same serial killer has arrived in Chicago. FBI Special Agent in Charge Ibby (Ernie Hudson) tries to persuade Campbell to return to the case, but he refuses.

One night Campbell receives a phone call from the killer, David Griffin (Keanu Reeves), who reveals that he followed Campbell to Chicago and wants to rebuild the "rapport" they once had. Griffin tells Campbell that he will send a photo of a woman in the morning, and Campbell has until 9:00 pm that night to find her. Campbell tells Ibby that he wants back in on the case, and his request is granted.

Campbell works together with Mackie and the rest of the team in getting the word out on finding the woman before the deadline. However, by the time Campbell gets her house number and calls, Griffin is already there, and has slit her throat. Griffin suggests they continue their "game" with a different woman. The next day, Campbell and his team try to find the next intended victim before the 9:00 pm deadline. They corner and almost catch Griffin, but he manages to once again kill the woman and escape. Later that night Campbell is found unconscious in his apartment by his colleagues.

The next day, another photo arrives, but it turns out to be the image of Lisa Anton (Yvonne Niami), Campbell's former lover who was killed indirectly because of Griffin by Campbell, back in Los Angeles. Campbell goes to Lisa's grave, where Griffin is waiting for him. Griffin explains that he has Beilman hostage somewhere, and only wants to talk with him. Campbell negotiates for Beilman's safety, and Griffin eventually agrees to bring Campbell to see her. During the drive, Griffin explains that he considers Campbell a "good friend", and that the two of them need each other. Campbell secretly uses his cell phone to call Mackie, cluing him in on the situation. Griffin takes Campbell to the warehouse, knocks him out, and restrains him while he starts to strangle Beilman. Campbell distracts Griffin by saying 'thank you'. When Griffin asks Campbell to repeat himself, Campbell stabs him with a pen before shooting him with a double-barrelled shotgun. Campbell rescues Beilman and gets them both to safety as the warehouse explodes, killing Griffin.



The film received extremely negative reviews from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes holding it with a 10% rating. Keanu Reeves earned a Razzie Award nomination as Worst Supporting Actor for his performance, where he lost the award to Barry Pepper for Battlefield Earth.

Box office[edit]

The film opened at the top spot of the North American box office making $9,062,295 USD in its opening weekend. It had a 36% decline in gross earnings the following week but was enough to keep the film at the top spot. Its total domestic gross was $28,946,615.


  • Reeves has stated that he was not interested in the script but was forced into doing the film when a friend forged his signature on a contract. He performed the role rather than get involved in a lengthy legal battle. He was contractually prevented from disclosing this until 12 months after the film's US release.[2]
  • The Watcher was filmed between October and December 1999 on location in Chicago, Illinois and Oak Park, Illinois.
  • This movie featured the 1996 hit "6 Underground" performed by Sneaker Pimps.


  1. ^ "Box Office". 
  2. ^ "Keanu: I was tricked into making film". 11 September 2001. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 

External links[edit]