Netflix Daily Pick: Killer on the Run in ‘Switchback’ (1997)

Today's pick is an outdoor crime thriller starring Jared Leto.

Switchback is a 1997 action thriller about a desperate FBI agent on the hunt for a savage serial killer who has kidnapped his son.

Today’s Netflix pick is an underrated thriller that got lost in the shuffle of some bigger films of the late 90s and didn’t get the audience it deserves. Starring Danny Glover and Dennis Quaid it also cast a young Jared Leto, the three topping a list of some great actors in support. A taut and fast-paced mystery, the movie’s atmosphere and excellent direction make this an easy pick, one that fans of the genre are gonna really enjoy. It’s Switchback and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by Jeb Stuart, the story opens with a sadistic serial killer who cuts people open by slicing their femoral artery, claiming a housewife and mother but letting her young boy live. Months later, two more victims are found in a hotel and it draws the attention of two opposing lawmen running for office, sheriff Olmstead (R. Lee Ermey) and police chief  McGinnis (William Fichtner), both looking to solve the case before election day. Into town comes FBI agent Frank LaCrosse (Quaid), who has a special interest in the case, saying he’s investigating an important lead, though there are dark secrets in his past. Meanwhile, elsewhere, a young man named Lane Dixon (Leto) hitches a ride with a curious fellow named Bob (Glover) driving a highly unusual car filled with pictures of nude women. Who they are and where they are headed leads to a collision of fates where life and death lay on the line.

Switchback
Switchback, 1997 © Pacific Western

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Stuart, who also wrote the screenplay, is the one to watch, or rather his direction and dialogue. Switchback is a gripping little thriller and Stuart’s excellent use of the terrain and weather between Texas and Colorado is the real star. Strikingly authentic and dripping with mood, the film pulses with tension and as good as the performances are, it’s the setting and atmosphere that make this so memorable. That’s not to say the cast doesn’t deliver. Quaid and Glover are very strong and Leto shows signs of the talent that would make him so renowned years later. Switchback is an excellent pick for a thrilling night of chills. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.

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