Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 26, 2019)
Ridley Scott’s first film of the 1980s didn’t do well at the time, but 1982’s Blade Runner eventually became regarded as a classic. The same fate failed to befall Scott’s work for the rest of the decade, though.
1985’s Legend bombed in all possible ways, and 1987’s Someone to Watch Over Me also couldn’t locate an audience. At least 1989’s decade-closing Black Rain turned a decent profit and pointed Scott toward better days ahead.
At the start of Watch, NYC cop Mike Keegan (Tom Berenger) gets promoted to detective. Roughly simultaneously, socialite Claire Gregory (Mimi Rogers) sees a murder committed by noted mobster Joey Venza (Andreas Katsulas).
To retain this witness, Keegan receives the “night shift” assignment to guard Claire. This leads the married Keegan into a powerful obsession with Claire as he also attempts to keep her alive.
Given that he long ago reached “living legend” status, it becomes difficult to remember how Scott’s career declined as I mentioned earlier. At one point, it seemed fair to view him as a one-hit wonder since Blade Runner, Legend< and Watch all faltered at the box office.
While Blade Runner deserved a better commercial fate, I can’t fault audiences who skipped the flawed Legend. I also don’t think Watch exists as a lost classic, for it presents a surprisingly limp experience.
For a romantic thriller, Watch rarely seems particularly romantic or thrilling. It takes a fairly long span to establish the connection between Mike and Claire, and when they do get together, they fail to form much chemistry or sizzle.
Not that Berenger or Rogers do poorly in their roles, as they seem competent. However, neither adds much real life to their parts, and they don’t turn into a couple with sexual charisma.
The story doesn’t help matters, as Watch progresses slowly and lacks compelling characters or situations much of the time. Every once in a while, the movie remembers its basic plot and throws out some menace, but these moments appear infrequently.
Instead, we find ourselves stuck with seemingly incessant moments of characters as they mope. Everyone here seems like they need anti-depression medications, and their generally morose demeanors sink much of the story’s potential momentum.
Scott directs much of Watch in the style of the era’s beer commercials, so expect a highly glossy affair. Even when the film needs to seem gritty, it still looks pretty and flashy, a mistake for a tale that needs more heart and depth. Too much of Watch feels like a really long 80s beer commercial.
Ultimately, the biggest sin of Watch comes from the boredom it inspires. The movie stretches across 106 minutes in a slow, sluggish manner that makes it a chore to view.