Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ermey Reserves!

Switchback  (Paramount, 1997)

Before the Camera:

Dennis Quaid  (Innerspace)
Danny Glover  (Lethal Weapon)
Jared Leto  (Panic Room)
Ted Levine  (TV's Monk)
William Fichtner  (TV's Prison Break)
Maggie Roswell (TV's The Simpsons)
R. Lee Ermey  (Geico spokesman, you jackwagon!)
Sheriff Buck Olmstead

Also look fast for:

Walt Goggins (TV's Justified)
Mark Curry (TV's Hanging with Mr. Cooper)
Julio Oscar Mechoso (Virus)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Jeb Stuart

Produced by Mel Efros, Gale Anne Hurd, Keith Samples, and Jeb Stuart

Written by Jeb Stuart

After writing Die Hard and The Fugitive, they let Jeb Stuart jump into the director's chair for this serial killer thriller. As the movie opens, a female babysitter is alone in the house with her young charge. Never a good sign. Sure enough, bad things soon happen, and the child, a young boy, is taken. Some time later, we are introduced to several characters, including retired railman Glover, quiet drifter Leto, Sheriff Ermey, and FBI agent Quaid. The storylines start out separate, with Glover and Leto coming together travelling through southeastern Colorado, and a couple of hundred miles away, Quaid descending on Ermey's northwestern Texas town in the wake of a violent crime, ostensibly committed by a drunken ne'er-do-well. But Quaid is sure it's the work of a serial killer he's been tracking for a couple of years, and he and good ol' boy Ermey team up. As the two plots move closer together, we begin to suspect either Glover or Leto is up to no good; and we discover the boy in the early scene was Quaid's son, taken by the serial killer as a distraction. Sure enough, this led to Quaid being taken off the case, but he's now gone rogue, trying to save his son from the killer, who has hidden him away somewhere. Now, using clues sent to him by the murderer, Quaid is staging his last ditch effort to stop the madman once and for all. But to do it he'll have to understand, believe, and be willing to kill...

Jared Leto takes the review picture slot hostage, refusing to let the
other actors into the shot at gunpoint! You selfish buzzard!
This is kind of a forgotten movie, lost in the shuffle back in 1997. It was also one of the first movies released to DVD, and I remember seeing it on the shelf at Blockbuster when they only had one set of shelves devoted to the digital discs. I skipped it then for whatever reason, but finally tracked it down, and it's not bad at all. It unfolds like a good novel, cutting back and forth between the two sets of characters and taking its time letting us get to know them (or at least get to know the persona they present to the world to keep their heart of darkness hidden away). The storyline is not perfect, with a few contrivances and a couple of plot holes, but it never goes off track. A lot of the success of the picture is down to the cast. Glover and Leto are both very good in their roles; each personable and mostly likable, but with enough mystery to keep us guessing. Ermey is worth his weight in gold playing the kind of Sheriff I'd actually vote for; a man of honor and a man willing to bend the rules to get the job done. The one slightly weak note in the movie is Quaid. I normally always enjoy watching him, but here he plays a dour, humorless man understandably driven to find his son. It's just not the kind of role you'd expect Dennis Quaid to play. I would think more Harrison Ford. But Quaid does an okay job. I just missed the devil may care spark he normally brings to the table. The rest of the cast is solid, with standouts including Ermey's right hand man Ted Levine, and Ermey's political rival, police chief William Fichtner; and it's fun spotting the "look fast" cast members listed above. All in all, this one rates a solid recommendation for anyone who enjoys a cat and mouse game between the police and a savvy psycho. Check it out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At approximately 1:10:00, Danny Glover is no longer enjoying sitting in the car sideways.

Eye Candy ?

Sadly, women do not play a very big role in this movie, so no.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Switchback makes the grade and needs no
kick in the caboose. That's train talk there."

Er, right. Thanks! Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

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