Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis, Keanu Reeves|
|Producer:||Christopher Eberts, Elliott Lewitt, Jeff Rice, Nile Niami|
Movies about serial killers are inherently dangerous, in that non-murderous psychotics could be further desensitized and pushed over the edge into copycat crimes. But as long as they sell, they’ll continue to be made; several have been released this year alone. The field is so crowded that it seems new approaches are necessary; this film features a killer who actually stalks the agent who’s on his case (that’s already been done: “In the Line of Fire”, for instance), and it sometimes looks and sounds like a music video.
Joel Campbell (James Spader) is an FBI agent who tracked a serial killer in L.A. until Campbell’s lover was killed (the circumstances are explained piece by piece in flashbacks). He took disability retirement, moved to Chicago, sees a therapist (Marisa Tomei) and lives in a haze of prescription drugs. But the killer, David Allen Griffin (Keanu Reeves), has followed him there and deliberately involves him in a new set of killings by mailing him a picture of each intended victim and giving him until 9 PM that day to find her before she’s abducted. Campbell is reinstated and allowed to work the case. Perhaps the idea of the media broadcasting a photo all day, and no one recognizing the picture and calling the police in time to save her, is meant as some kind of social commentary about us being too busy and not being connected to our neighbors. Other than that, the film presents nothing new that’s worth mentioning. It’s not only bad in the sense that all psycho movies are bad; it’s below average in plot and production values. Even the acting isn’t that great. I’d have thought the low-emotion Reeves would make a convincing killer, but he’s more effective playing the good guy (as in “Speed”).
Content Warnings: The profanity is as would be expected in this type of film, somewhere between strong and extreme (25+ uses of f*). There’s no nudity (except for some art sketches) and no sexual activity; the killer never rapes his victims. He does dance with one victim and kiss her through the duct tape on her mouth, while simultaneously strangling her with piano wire. It’s disturbing to watch innocent people be randomly targeted for death and then miss being rescued by just a few minutes. If there’s any redeeming value in the plot or the ending, it went over my head. Many films released at this time of year were originally intended for summer, but were judged by their owners to be below par and relegated to the fall schedule. I suspect this one is in that category. In any case, I recommend passing it up.