Movies are horrible things. They give us beauty, laughter, sadness, thrills, sharp dialogue and most of all, a great escape from the real world. Drama comes from conflict, and conflict creates heroes. Great men and women fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Of course, everyone loves a shiny do, but let’s be honest: the ones who struggle are always more interesting. A story is only as good as its villain, an idea that still resonates today. It’s the bad guys we really want to see — killing, maiming, and destroying with reckless abandon, all in the name of an evil, nefarious plan. Whether it’s a hulking killer in a hockey mask or a stoic demon with a face full of pincers, we can’t help but smile when they appear, usually accompanied by some well-placed shadows or a sharp musical score. Every once in a while, though, some villainous character is elevated to an even higher cinematic level: namely, when the character is played by an actor you’d least expect. Playing against type is one of the greatest tools an actor has. With their fingers immersed in an unknown territory, they show us their true talent, their range of emotions. Many examples of these phenomena exist, but very few surpass tranquility Keanu Reeves in the year Joe Charbanic2000 horror thriller the supervisor
What is ‘The Watcher’ about?
the supervisor It follows former FBI agent Campbell (James Spader), who has just moved to Chicago to escape the death of her lover, David Allen Griffin (Reeves), due to her inability to catch serial strangler. While seeing a therapist named Polly (Marisa Tomei), Campbell finds himself lost and barely able to function, living alone with his regrets and pumping migraine medication directly into his stomach to function from day to day. But Joe soon begins to regain his life when he starts receiving phone calls from Griffin, who has followed him to Chicago to play a deadly new game: he will send Campbell photos of potential victims and give the ex-Fed 24 hours. find them before they die.
Recognizing Campbell’s wealth of knowledge, Detective Hollis (Chris Ellis) takes Campbell hunting again. The two work together, searching each photo for clues that will help them find Griffin’s victims in time. However, it’s not long before Polly herself enters the game, becoming a target and drawing Griffin and Campbell into a violent battle in which only one of them survives. Whether or not Campbell wants to survive the game remains to be seen.
‘The Watcher’ wasn’t exactly a critical darling
Suffering 11% on the Tomatometer and receiving only two out of four stars from Roger Ebert, the supervisor was a critical flop when it was released in September 2000, calling it a “painted serial killer thriller” that suffered from “bad casting choices” and a first-time director (Joe Charbanic was a good friend of Reeves’, known for his filming of Dogstar on tour). Reeves gave Charbanic verbal consent to make the film, but changed his mind after learning he would pay the scale, even though screenwriters Clay Ayers and David Elliot greatly expanded his part. According to Hollywood lore, Reeves’ signature was forged on the contract by his assistant and, not wanting to get involved in a major legal battle, he agreed to participate. But despite production issues and less-than-stellar reviews, the supervisor managed decent financial success, grossing $47 million worldwide against a $30 million budget. The audience went to see the film, of course. Some maybe because of Ayers and Elliott’s suspenseful script. Others might because of Spader’s intense performance. But most of all, people wanted to see if Keanu Reeves could play a killer. Spoiler alert: it does.
The film stars Keanu Reeves as a serial killer
Reeves’ performance makes the film. The critics were turned off by the sight of Ted “Theodore” Logan killing people, complaining about his idiot California grin and chivalrous demeanor. But here, that’s exactly what makes his character work. The charming twinkle in his eye becomes seriously disturbing, his carelessness juxtaposes his terrible deeds. He dances with his victims, makes disarming jokes. Every gesture, on top of that toothy grin, is skillfully turned into an abomination, making us squirm in our seats. We grow wary of the dark things lurking behind that bright glow.
This formula also makes her chemistry with James Spader crackle. Spader plays Campbell straight and spoiled. It’s a formidable role to Reeves’ devilish delight. Elliott and Ayers’ script taps into the tension between the two and gives Reeves plenty of room to play, cracking open a beer at a gravestone and taunting Spader, “It’s cold in here, man! Why’d you move. here?” Griffin even breaks some movie tropes, when Campbell, finally ready to face Griffin, willingly hands over his gun only for Griffin to randomly fire and comment, “Wow! It’s loaded!” No, no unloaded gun tricks here.
As a killer obsessed with the man he’s hunting—to the point of declaring that their lives wouldn’t exist without the other—Griffin sees his innocent victims as means to an ugly end and nothing more. Watching Keanu Reeves play this character with depth and power is a real treat. A performance that is as impactful as it is unexpected. In fact, it could be argued that Reeves’ attitude towards the part—which he forced and hated—only adds to his performance. His “I don’t care” mentality oozes off the screen, a kind of hollowness that becomes the honest nature of a killer. It’s almost too believable.
Reeves’ career has only grown since then. After dipping her toe in the Against Type pool, she’s dove headlong into roles that include an abusive husband accused of murder, a plucky toy, and most importantly, a comical caricature of herself. But the sinister allure of David Allen Griffin’s role stands above the rest, proving that pigeon-holing certain actors isn’t just a detriment to the actors themselves, but to the film industry as a whole. Just ask Tim Allen About David Mamet’s role Red belt. Or Tom Cruise and his frozen keys Warranties Maybe one day we will all be treated Mike Myers playing a hunchbacked cannibal. now that it would be something