Tammy brought this over. She's a big Keanu fan, and this is one of her favorite movies.
The movie starts kind of in the middle of the story. You pick up backstory as it moves along. Pretty early, you learn that James Spader used to be a detective, that he's seeing a pshrink, and that he's pretty messed up by a case he had in a different city.
Then, he starts getting calls from the previous serial killer. Keanu had tracked Spader down and followed him to the new city. And he's started killing again. And he's giving clues to Spader and giving him 24 hours to figure out who the victim is and how to stop him from killing her.
Similar to From Hell, the main character is a cop with a drug dependency, but it doesn't really show up for me. Most of the time he's completely with it.
One thing that bugged me was how the local police simply stepped aside and let Spader take over the investigation. Especially since they knew about his problems. They should have treated him as a valuable conduit to the killer. But, the script made the locals merely competent and Spader is overwhelmingly better. They also throw in an FBI agent who's a bit brighter than the locals, but still submits pretty much completely to Spader.
One thing they did well is Spader didn't have to make any unsubstantiated leaps. They made him very observant. He picked up a lot of clues from chance comments. I don't remember any ridiculous coincidences, either.
Keanu didn't really capture the deeply disturbed psycho. He tried to put a lot of bounce in his portrayal, but it didn't really work for him somehow. It felt like he was trying too hard.
Hmm, why didn't this movie have more impact? I guess part of it was that they made the audience learn about the victims at the same time as the police. They did that for two reasons, methinks. It seems like that should add more suspense. And, it saves time, so we don't have to see the information twice, once for the audience and again as the police stumble on it. But I wonder if it would have been more effective if the audience had known basically everything necessary to find the victims and they're wondering when the police will spot the important clue in a blizzard of clues.
Similarly, I know they wanted to withhold Spader's big secret for the big reveal. And I can see why. But by mixing in his backstory leading up to the big reveal it somehow diminished the impact. I guess because Keanu didn't hold it over him the entire movie. He didn't even mention it until the end. I guess that just felt too convenient? And it made Keanu's character less sadistic than it felt like he should be.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Rental. An okay thriller. Keanu as a serial killer. He wasn't quite as flat as normal.
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