Not only is this film Jeb Stuart's first turn behind the camera, it's also the first screenplay he ever wrote. He wrote it while at Stanford, his professor sent it out and Stuart was signed to an agency. He then went on to write "Die Hard" and "The Fugitive" (he also wrote "Just Cause" and "Another 48 hrs." so don't give him too much credit) before finally coming back to "Switchback."
I mention this because this film resembles the kind of experiment a creative writing professor at Stanford would give his students to keep them occupied while he went off to nap in his office. "Here, go play around with the 'FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer' genre, you goofy little bastards." Stuart's twist is to spend an inordinate amount of time following around two drifters: Bob Goodall (Danny Glover) and Lane Dixon (Jared Leto), one of whom is obviously the cunning serial killer who's kidnapped the son of FBI agent Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid). Of course, LaCrosse will now stop at nothing to find the whereabouts of his son and see justice done. Original, huh?
Normally, films of this genre do not spend half their time with the killer because it doesn't allow them to properly develop the character of the hero. Since everybody's screen time is severely cut, it makes for a movie full of characters with the personality of potatoes. Quaid walks around with a perpetual sneer. R. Lee Ermey plays a sheriff who puts his career on the line for LaCrosse because he sees "the truth," even though he doesn't know LaCrosse from a hole in the ground. Glover and Leto are equally uninteresting.
This film seems to make one important lesson painfully clear: Never entrust a film to a guy named Jeb.
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