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Movie Review

Switchback

Reviewed by: W. J. Kimble
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
121 min.
Year of Release:
1997
R

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, Jared Leto, Ted Levine, and R. Lee Ermey / Director: Jeb Stuart / Released by: Paramount Pictures

A rogue FBI agent, Frank La Crosse (Dennis Quaid) is hot on the trail of a serial killer who has just kidnapped his son. Arriving in Amarillo, La Crosse befriends the local sheriff, Buck Olmstead (R. Lee Ermey), who takes it upon himself to risk his future political career to assist La Crosse in retrieving his kidnapped son.

Meanwhile, Bob Goodall (Danny Glover), picks up a hitchhiker who happens to be a medical-residency dropout. The two quickly become friends and as they travel, chaos follows. The hitchhiker, Lane Dixon (Jared Leto, from Prefontaine), is a likable, yet quiet man, who seems to be hiding some dark, deep-seated secret.

Throughout the movie, La Crosse receives clues from the killer/kidnapper. These little hints help La Crosse to eventually find his son. The plot of the movie is almost as encryptic as the clues that are sent. The sequence of events are so hard to follow that this reviewer wanted to “switchback” to the previews to find out what was going on.

“Switchback” has some very tense moments and when La Crosse eventually meets up with Goodall, it’s showtime! But overall, “Switchback” is poorly put together and is a movie that should be left unseen. Perhaps it is because writer/director Jeb Stuart wrote it twelve years ago while still in college. His hormones were at a peak and his brain was more on girls than on a good story line. This movie is constantly showing Playboy centerfolds in the most inappropriate manner and at the most inappropriate times.

Goodall’s Cadillac is upholstered with these centerfold spreads and photos which sometimes shock the living daylights out of you. They frequently ride in this car leaving you perpetually battered by these gratuitous sex scenes. More than once, the camera zooms in on these photos and in one scene the photo is enlarged to fill the entire screen! It really was out of place and uncalled for!

I realize that Jeb Stuart did a great job at co-writing “Die-Hard” and “The Fugitive”; but this movie is a disgrace! This film contains some offensive language and minimal violence. One particularly graphically violent scene shows a man getting his leg slashed by Goodall, but it is brief and they quickly move on to the next scene. The nudity, on the other hand, is appalling and grossly overdone!

The Rocky Mountain setting that cinematographer Oliver Wood chose to film in is quite exquisite. R. Lee Emery, (better known for his role as the drill instructor in “Full Metal Jacket” and as the lead green army man in “Toy Story”) plays a terrific sheriff and really makes the story come alive.