Sunday, December 4, 2016

Switchback

1.5/4

Starring: Danny Glover, Dennis Quaid, Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey, Ted Levine, William Fitchner

Rated R for Strong Violence and Several Views of Nude Pin-Ups

Who cares?

That's the thought that quickly came to mind while watching this movie.  Who cares?

F.B.I. Agent Frank Lacrosse (Quaid) is tracking a killer.  A serial killer who slashes people's femoral arteries as his M.O.  His pursuit leads him to Amarillo, Texas, where two more victims that appear to have been done by his quarry have been slashed to death.  There, he finds himself the middle of a pissing contest between the local sheriff Buck Olmstead (Ermey) and the competition for his job, an incompetent weasel by the name of Jack McGinnis (Fitchner).

Meanwhile in Colorado, friendly Bob Goodall (Glover) has picked up a hitchhiker named Lane Dixon (Leto).  They're driving through a heavy storm, and it soon becomes clear to everyone that a killer is on the loose.  But who is it?

The biggest problem with "Switchback" is its length.  At just a hair under two hours, it's way too long.  There's really only enough material here for an hour long film, so half the movie is filler.  And it's bad filler.  Writer/director Jeb Stuart, in his directing debut, clearly loves his characters enough to have them talk and talk and interact with each other.  The problem is that the audience doesn't and he is definitely no Quentin Tarantino.

The acting is fine, I guess.  Dennis Quaid trades his everyman persona from something more intense.  Danny Glover has no problem playing the nice guy.  Jared Leto fades into the background as the mysterious drifter.  Frankly, the only one who bears mentioning is R. Lee Ermey, who steals every scene he's in.  There's nothing special about Buck on paper, but Ermey is so fun to watch that I had more interest in his subplot about the election than the stuff about a serial killer.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: pacing is absolutely crucial for a thriller.  That's not negotiable.  Even in a slow-burn thriller, which is what I think Stuart was going for, the pace and rhythm of the film has to be just right.  But this movie crawls.  The characters aren't interesting and the story is a bore.

So I ask again.  Who cares?  I certainly didn't.

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