The ’90s Crime Thriller With Tons Of Stars That No One Remembers

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 1997 thriller Switchback is streaming on Paramount+. Written and directed by Jeb Stuart, the movie features a stellar cast, including Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, Jared Leto, Ted Levine, William Fichtner, and R. Lee Ermey. The plot revolves around FBI agent Frank LaCrosse, who is on the trail of a serial killer who has kidnapped his son.

Switchback On Paramount+

Switchback begins with a being brutally murdered while babysitting a young boy named Andy, whom the killer then abducts. Later, FBI agent Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid) arrives in Amarillo, Texas, to investigate seemingly related murders.

When it is revealed that Andy is his son, LaCrosse is pulled off the case, leaving Amarillo’s sheriff, Buck Olmstead (R. Lee Ermey), to solve the case.

Jared Leto And Danny Glover

Hitchhiker Lane Dixon (Jared Leto) is thrust into the heart of the investigation after being picked up by a likable drifter, Bob Goodall (Danny Glover).

Unbeknownst to Dixon, Goodall is the serial killer, setting the stage for Switchback. As law enforcement agencies clash over jurisdiction and methods, Olmstead is torn between political concerns and a father’s anguish.

Tons Of Tensions

Switchback artfully captures the tension between Olmstead and LaCrosse, who, despite being suspended, is determined to rescue his son at any cost.

The story takes an unexpected twist when Goodall, masquerading as a friend, reveals his true identity to Dixon. Goodall even asks Dixon to care for his son in case of his demise.

As the authorities close in, a blizzard complicates the pursuit, forcing Goodall and Dixon onto treacherous mountain roads. Switchback builds to a heart-stopping climax when Goodall’s overconfident driving leads to a difficult situation.

The ensuing scenes, set against a snowy backdrop, provide viewers with a visually stunning and emotionally charged battleground for the characters.

Released In 1997

Director Jeb Stuart, primarily known for his work as a screenwriter, made his directorial debut with Switchback. When he developed the screenplay, Stuart aimed to incorporate elements of suspense and mystery, focusing on the dynamic between the two lead characters.

Veteran studio VIFX/Video Image designed the visual effects for the movie.

Switchback was released in October 1997. The movie earned a modest $6.5 million at the U.S. box office against a production budget of $38 million. Critical reception for the film was mixed.

Too Predictable?

While some praised the performances of the lead actors and the suspenseful atmosphere, others criticized the movie for its predictable plot.

Switchback currently holds a 31 percent critics rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes alongside a 46 percent audience score. According to the critical consensus, the movie is hampered by numerous divergent plot twists and inconsistent performances. As a result, it fails to establish a cohesive narrative flow for viewers to follow.

Stream Switchback Now

Interestingly, the film’s title, Switchback, refers to a type of road or trail with a zigzag pattern, often found in mountainous regions.

This reflects the film’s setting and the characters’ journey. The movie features notable locations in the southwestern United States, contributing to its atmospheric and visually striking scenes.

While Switchback may not have become a blockbuster or a critical darling, it remains a part of the thriller genre from the late 1990s.