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Wow, this is an intense story that should keep you interested for the
full two hours. The five main roles are all men and they are pretty
interesting, led by Danny Glover's character, who is very, very creepy.
I'm hesitant to say much about this film for fear of giving anything away for those who have not seen it. Suffice to say its a rough movie in regards to language, violence and general attitude but the story grabs you quickly and is tough to put down once you are into it.
One complaint I read said this film never made it big because it was too convoluted a storyline. In fact, the story isn't really pieced together until the last few minutes. Well, a lot of films over the years were like that (Charlie Chan and Sherlock Holmes mysteries, just to name two) and no one complained.
The fact that FBI agent Dennis Quaid would figure things out to the exact minute does stretch credibility so don't look for a film that makes a lot of sense: it's simply a very tense thriller that entertains, so it serves its purpose.
Lee Ermey, the fanatical drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, also is fun to watch in here. Jared Leto and Ted Levine also contribute nicely. It's a man's film, for the most part and an effective diversion for two hours.
I saw this film for the first time on late night television after returning
from the cinema where I saw the disappointing 'Along Came a Spider'. There
are similarities, but Switchback is by far the better film. Jeb Stuart has
done a terrific job keeping us at the edge of the couch and there are very
few cliches around. Danny Glover and the entire cast are just right, and all
the characters, even the minor roles, are three-dimensional. The story
centres on a young handsome hitchhiker picked up and befriended by the
serial killer. But this is no ordinary serial killer -- he is Mr. Popularity
along the mountain roads where they travel in buddy movie-fashion. But not
for long. The killer isn't out to make new friends. What he is doing is
cleverly framing the loner-hitchhiker (finger prints on murder weapon etc)
so that the law will be searching for the hitchhiker, and not the real
killer. That is the killer's modus operandi. So here we have this handsome
hitchhiker with a mysterious past (a doctor who ran away) and a killer with
a bloody past who is on the run. Enter an FBI agent (Dennis Quaid) who is
wanted by the FBI. The FBI want Quaid off the case. But Quaid is a
determined man: the serial killer, who he has tracked for 18 months, has
kidnapped his son....All of these outsiders come through a small town where
the local sheriff loses the election by opting to help the truant FBI agent
find the real killer... Three quarters of the way through the film, everyone
is chasing someone and the tension keeps mounting along with the altitude.
The killer has left a note with a cryptic clue that Dennis Quaid must decipher. But the key to his son's whereabouts lies elsewhere.....
This is a fresh breath of writing into a genre that has been abused and neglected of late. There are nice echos of our favourite films noir (...the hitchhiker, the loner, the car accident.....the guessing came about who is who...). There's a touch of The Fugitive, but not too much. On top of all the good acting, casting, plotting and suspense, there's nice atmosphere and locations in the Rockies.
Switchback was an enjoyable mystery/thriller with a few nice action sequences. Quaid's character seemed a bit cliche to me (like he was impersonating a dour Harrison Ford) but Glover's character was unique and interesting. This movie didn't have a lot of surprises or plot twists, but director Jeb Stuart managed to keep my interest high by using well drawn and likeable characters and by keeping a lot of balls in the air from the beginning of the movie. With the exception of the serial killer himself, the conflicting motivations of the characters played well with the story and provided plenty of tension. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of the serial killer himself. This is possibly the first movie I've seen where the killer had a human face and was not a psycho mastermind genius or a low-life loner with a chip the size of Manhattan on his shoulder.
As a thriller, this had some holes. For starters, Stuart identifies the killer too early (at least, I figured it out), so some tension is robbed). The postcard thing never really made any sense to me. And though it's clear who the killer is, his identity raises questions about how Quaid's son is kept without the authorities knowing. But I can forgive a lot of that because we care about the characters. Quaid, Ermey, and Glover, are three of our finest character actors, and they make us interested in their characters. Also, Ted Levine offers fine support, and Jared Leto creates mystery in his role when there wasn't a whole lot written in.
I liked just about every aspect of this movie. The local police aren't portrayed as a bunch of inbred idiots, the killer isn't portrayed as maniacal and impersonable, and the FBI agent isn't just a suit with all the personality of a tube of toothpaste. All of these combine to make a refreshing murder mystery/thriller. This isn't the classic "who dun it?" type of murder mystery; rather, it is more in the flavor of "Silence of the Lambs", where we discover who the killer is long before the end of the movie, and the suspense comes from anticipating the hero catching the villain.
throughout this noirish thriller, and it doesn't look easy. Otherwise, the acting is fine and the story is full of interesting twists and details. Watch this film late at night, alone -- it definitely will keep you awake until the very end, when you might sit up and say Huh? No, really, it's a good film.
It's not something that Quaid or Glover would want to buy back and
destroy every copy but it's not very good either.
Quaid has one constipated expression all through the film as does Leto. They obviously needed the paycheck. Glover, to be fair, hammed it up, had fun and it kept me from changing to something else.
But the entire plot was bad - and even the chases were dull lacking any excitement, the contrived "surprise" was revealed too early - and nothing makes much sense. Just a bunch of scenes strung together to fill the time. No humor or decent FX/explosions ala Lethal Weapon to distract from a boring story either.
Very meh - Predator 2 was better...
I mostly liked "Switchback", but the last half hour or so seemed kind
of anticlimactic, as if suddenly the truth gets revealed and then
nothing more can happen. Granted, they did have a lot of tricks up to
that point, but I still would have preferred a bigger surprise at the
end. Nevertheless, Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, Jared Leto and R. Lee
Ermey do well in their roles. I kind of wish that more movies took
place in the Rocky Mountains region (the most famous one is "The
Shining", but another good one is "Sunshine Cleaning").
Anyway, an OK movie, but I would have preferred a stronger ending.
PS: Maggie Roswell, who plays Fae, is best known as one of the voices on "The Simpsons".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Almost an oxymoron, isn't it? A well-done serial murderer story? Yet
they do come along from time to time. This one isn't as innovative as
"Seven," not as well observed, but it's still above average.
The killer, the affable Danny Glover, arranges to take the hitch-hiking, unwitting Jared Leto on a trip through the Colorado mountains in the middle of winter. Glover, whose identity is unknown to any social control agents, is being pursued by a local police department, R. Lee Ermey in charge, and a loose cannon FBI agent, Dennis Quaid, whose son Glover has kidnapped and stashed away somewhere.
Half the film has Glover driving his white El Dorado, festooned with pics of Playmates of the Month, through a convincingly snowy landscape. The other half deals with the reluctant cooperation between Ermey and Quaid. Ermey finally decides to throw the law books out the window and join Quaid in his personal quest. The climax brings Glover, Leto, and Quaid together in the caboose of a freight train plowing its way through a mountain pass and turns the movie into what is more or less a formulaic bang up.
Two things contribute to the quality of the film. One is the location shooting. Everything looks cold, bare, gloomy, and windswept. The landscape seems to be hibernating and waiting for spring. The other thing is Danny Glover's performance as the serial killer. He's great. A Scatman Crothers whose big grin and avuncular manner barely manage to mask the vicious psychopath beneath. Glover's character has worked these mountain passes for the railroad before. Everyone in the small towns along the route and on the job seem to know and love him -- and he's a black guy too. It says volumes about our national change in attitude that someone was willing to cast an African-American actor as a charming murderer of white people, and Glover justifies the risk that was taken.
Quaid is stolid, stuck in the humorless role of the anxious but determined father. Jared Leto can't really act at all. And there are clichés in abundance. The car that rolls off the road and hangs on the edge of a cliff while its occupants try to crawl out of the wreck. It's held up by a single tree, which cracks and allows the vehicle to plunge into the valley, while Leto hangs onto some projecting roots by his fingertips.
But it's Danny Glover who redeems the film. At the start, we only see him as an amiable guy, and only gradually do we come to suspect his identity as the killer. The first time he uses his knife, the victim is an old friend with whom he has shared his childhood. It's a truly chilling scene. Glover's friendly smile fades into a scowl while the puzzled victim simply stares back at him. Then there is Glover's death. He's knocked from a speeding train and does a series of somersaults down a snowy slope, yipping and yelling along the way, like Major Kong riding the catastrophic bomb in "Doctor Strangelove." What a job he does.
At heart, it's just another serial killer story but -- here we must all get on our knees and thank heaven for small favors -- the killer doesn't leave puzzling clues behind based on "Alice in Wonderland" or The Seven Deadly Sins or the first folio of Billy Shakespeare's works or the seven levels of Inuit hell. There's only one teasing clue, and it doesn't require a trip to the library to solve it. There's really very little gore, and no violence except for a few minutes at the end.
You'll probably like it.
Dennis Quaid and Danny Glover did a decent job in their character roles for Switchback. I was especially fond of R. Lee Ermey, the Sheriff, (who played the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket "Private Pyle; what is your major malfuction?"). Being a fan of movie music (and Basil Poledouris), the score kept right up with the action. It's too bad that it didn't do well at the box office; lots of good scenery, especially the railroad fight sequences. I'd recommend this movie to Glover, Quaid (and Ermey) fans!
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