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"Time's up "

Oct 11th, 2009

I watched this film a few years ago and remember being moderately impressed by it. The other night it screened again on the BBC and I decided to check it out. I have to say this was extremely boring, not even The Watcher would watch this.

This is a by the numbers thriller that destroys a great premise, the set up is so cool – it's just a shame we ended up with this interpretation. Retired agent Campbell is trying to come to terms with his inability to capture a serial killer (I would have rather seen that movie). Moving to Chicago he is tracked down by said murderer who sets a new game in motion.

Ok, standard serial killer fare there but what gives this a different slant is that the killer in this flick actually reveals who is next victim is going to be 24 hours in advance. This is set up with pictures of said victim sent to Campbell and the hunt is on. More standout than the plot here is the fact that the killer is actually played by none other than Keanu Reeves.

The film is just a disappointment from the start, it seems we're dealing with duality here. Campbell (James Spader) sees a psychiatrist (Marisa Tomei) to help him cope with his 'issues'. Apparently the film tries to set Spader up as needing the thrill of hunting down this killer as his life is empty. Same goes for the killer – he needs Campbell. But it's less about the kills more about the chase. Bad thing is its never explored even in the therapy sessions, if the point is brought up Campbell dismisses it, there's no internal struggle here, I never felt the possibility he would let Reeves' character escape.

Focusing more on the hunt for the victims (a truly boring process), Campbell joins the police in their investigation. Once again no focus on how the police feel about this man leading their investigation, they just accept it. Every time they receive a photo we go through the same scenes of police walking up to people asking have you seen this person, hardly riveting to watch.

Spader is Ok here, same goes for Tomei. I just get the feeling no one was interested in the script; everyone turns up and says their lines. You know there's a problem when everyone is outshone by Keanu Reeves.

This is the reason I remember this film being good – I was sideswiped by seeing him play a villain but on watching this again it's still the same stilted Keanu performance. The problem is he's not menacing enough, he never loses his cool when talking to Campbell and we only get to see him assault two women. Not to take death lightly but they are not the most savage kills, it's hard to imagine this man being public enemy number one in Chicago. I will say it is fun to watch him even with flaws as he actually puts more in than the rest of the cast.

The use of music here is strange, throughout tracks blare out over scenes drowning out dialogue and sound effects. No matter how good the tracks they pick are they jar with the images on screen, perhaps that was the point to distract the viewer from the crap on screen.

It's hard to recommend this to anyone, it's not a bad movie it's just not a good one. There are no bad performances here, just adequate ones. The best I can give is if it's on TV and there's nothing else on, you've no books to read and all the laundry is done then you might as well watch this. 4/10

Best Kill
The one in front of the window (I know it's hard to choose here)

Trivia
Keanu dances to Dragula doing kung fu moves as homage to Matrix
His appearance here was only meant to be a cameo but grew in script rewrites
Reeves apparently didn't want to work on this flick so his role in the film was downplayed to stop him badmouthing the film before release.

Director: Joe Charbanic
Screenplay: Darcey Meyers, David Elliot, Cley Ayers
Release: 2000
Rating: 15
Starring: James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Keanu Reeves


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