A 90s Cliche Thriller
F.B.I. agent Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid) was put in charge of a team looking for a serial killer which lead to the killer disappearing, presumed dead but also before he supposedly died the killer took Frank's son. Whilst the FBI closed the case Frank refused to believe the killer was dead and when a dead body shows up in Amarillo, Texas with the same M.O. Frank abandons the case he is on and shows up there. And in doing so he walks straight in to the middle of an election battle between old time Sheriff Buck Olmstead (R. Lee Ermey) and police chief Jack McGinnis (William Fichtner). Meanwhile former rail road worker Bob Goodall (Danny Glover) has picked up the mysterious Lane Dixon (Jared Leto) who come to the attention of LaCrosse and Olmstead.
The year is 2016 and I find myself watching "Switchback" a frankly forgettable thriller from 1997 which has a simple central storyline surrounding an emotionally neutered FBI agent trying to find a serial killer who made things personal. But watching this movie which is almost 20 years old delivered exactly the sort of hokum entertainment which fuelled my passion for cinema when I was in my 20s and whilst "Switchback" is far from being a great movie it reminded me of why I love to watch movies.
Now there is no denying that "Switchback" is pretty straight-forwards when it comes to the main storyline with LaCrosse going after the killer who has made things very personal by taking his son. But that simple storyline is massively dressed up as we have an election battle between a sheriff and a chief of police, we have LaCrosse's superior trying to bring in the rogue agent and then there are the mysterious paring of Goodall and Dixon, two strangers but one is confident and carries a knife whilst driving a car decorated in pictures of naked women, and the other has a mysterious past but is in fact a doctor with knife skills. The thing is that it is technically full of irrelevant sub plots but they contribute to what keeps it entertaining and makes it a bit of escapism fun.
Whilst the story keeps "Switchback" entertaining the characters and the acting gives it a layer of amusement especially when it comes to R. Lee Ermey giving us old, wild eyed sheriff with a ton of personality. It is the same with Danny Glover as he gives Bob Goodall plenty of personality as well which actually works well with a fresh faces Jared Leto giving Lane Dixon a nervous, quieter disposition. The thing is that the mix of characters is diverse with some serious, some a bit more amusing but this actually is what a lot of 90s thrillers delivered and is part of what makes them and this, as does the ridiculous ending but I will leave that for you to discover for yourself.
What this all boils down to is that "Switchback" is extremely typical of the 1990's thriller scene which means it is a star studded bit of entertainment nonsense which the less you think about the more enjoyable it ends up.