Ridley Scott’s Someone to Watch Over Me

Ridley Scott

Someone to Watch Over Me movie poster


Rid­ley Scott’s Some­one to Watch Over Me (1987) is more of a dra­ma than a police thriller, refresh­ing­ly focussed on its char­ac­ters over sus­pense and action alone. Mike Kee­gan (Tom Berenger) is a salt-of-the-earth Queens detec­tive assigned to pro­tect mate­r­i­al wit­ness Claire (Mimi Rogers) from assas­si­na­tion. Kee­gan is a mod­est fam­i­ly man, recent­ly pro­mot­ed to the sec­ond rung of the police hier­ar­chy. It’s no glam­orous job; he spends most of his work­ing hours just sit­ting around not fin­ish­ing cross­words. He’s utter­ly unlike the over-the-top testos­terone-laden cop char­ac­ter played by Michael Dou­glas in Scott’s oth­er police thriller, Black Rain.

Tom Berenger in Someone to Watch Over MeAny dame what lives in a spread like this is out­ta yer league, pal.

Kee­gan is more-or-less hap­pi­ly mar­ried (to Lor­raine Brac­co as Ellie), but a man like him would nev­er oth­er­wise come into con­tact with a beau­ti­ful uptown girl like Claire. Cooped up in close prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er every night, they inevitably lapse into an affair. Her effem­i­nate but wealthy and pow­er­ful hus­band sens­es that Kee­gan is a roman­tic rival, but he is an effec­tive­ly impo­tent char­ac­ter and fre­quent­ly dis­ap­pears from the film alto­geth­er. Also notable is song-and-dance man Jer­ry Orbach already type­cast as a detec­tive in a small role as Keegan’s tough Lieu­tenant.

Mimi Rogers in Someone to Watch Over MeWhen Mimi Rogers heard Direc­tor Rid­ley Scott was big on visu­al spec­ta­cles, this isn’t what she had in mind

One of the guar­an­teed plea­sures of any Rid­ley Scott film is the visu­als. Some­one to Watch Over Me’s open­ing cred­its fea­ture the name­sake song by George Gersh­win sung by Sting over beau­ti­ful­ly sleek aer­i­al shots of New York City at night. The final shootout is per­fect­ly staged in a claus­tro­pho­bi­cal­ly enclosed space, with huge mir­rors placed for max­i­mum dra­mat­ic impact. The prin­ci­pals stalk each oth­er in near silence, punc­tu­at­ed by the wide dynam­ics of sound design. Per­haps Scott was com­pet­ing with that oth­er upstart mas­ter of cin­e­mat­ic shootouts, Michael Mann (in par­tic­u­lar, the sim­i­lar­ly explo­sive con­clu­sion to the con­tem­po­rary thriller Man­hunter).

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