|Directed by||Jeb Stuart|
|Produced by||Mel Efros
Gale Anne Hurd
|Written by||Jeb Stuart|
and R. Lee Ermey
|Music by||Basil Poledouris|
|Editing by||Conrad Buff|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures
|Running time||118 min.|
Switchback is a 1997 thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, Jared Leto, Ted Levine, William Fichtner and R. Lee Ermey, set in Amarillo, Texas and moving through New Mexico & Southern Colorado. It was written and directed by Jeb Stuart.
A woman is killed while babysitting a young boy; the killer takes him when he leaves the house. A few months later a man and cleaning woman are killed at a motel in Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo's longtime sheriff, Buck Olmstead (R. Lee Ermey), is up for reelection. Both he and opponent Jack McGinnis (William Fichtner) are eager to be the one to solve a big murder case before Election Day. Meanwhile, a hitchhiker named Lane Dixon (Jared Leto) is picked up by Bob Goodall (Danny Glover), an affable drifter.
FBI agent Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid) turns up in Amarillo and tells Olmstead he is in charge of tracking down an elusive serial killer, the person he suspects is responsible for the murders. Olmstead discovers that LaCrosse has been taken off the case by superiors because the boy kidnapped is his son Andy (Ian Blake Nelson). LaCrosse is more determined than ever, now that the cases are linked. He teams up with the reluctant Amarillo police department to continue his investigation.
The tactics of the FBI agent concern Olmstead at first, particularly after finding out LaCrosse's personal conflict in the case. He also worries that coooperating with the suspended FBI agent might cost his own job.
Dixon is suggested as a prime suspect in the murders. But, with LaCrosse on his trail, it is revealed instead that Goodall is the killer. At a mechanics' shop he kills again, drawing a knife on a mechanic. Later, Goodall and Dixon befriend each other, and Goodall tells the hitchhiker about his son. He asks Dixon to promise to look after him if anything should happen to Goodall. Dixon agrees and Goodall gives him the boy's address.
Shortly after this, Goodall's overconfident driving along the treacherous icy roads causes the car to careen off the side. Goodall is trapped in the driver's seat with the car hanging from a branch on the mountainside. Dixon was thrown free in the snow. He climbs through the passenger window and cuts Goodall free with the man's knife. Dixon in turn is saved by Goodall after almost falling to his death while trying to retrieve his backpack.
Still later, Goodall and LaCrosse battle on the side of a train, after the agent closes in on him. Goodall tells LaCrosse that he will have to kill him to find out where his son is, and falls off the train laughing. He tumbles down a hill and is impaled and killed by a broken branch of a fallen tree.
LaCrosse grieves for believing his son is lost forever. Dixon cannot speak since Goodall slit his throat He realizes Goodall gave him a clue to the boy's whereabouts, and writes in the dust on the floor of the train. LaCrosse goes to that address; he finds his kidnapped son playing in the backyard of a house next door.
- Dennis Quaid as Frank LaCrosse
- Danny Glover as Bob Goodall
- Jared Leto as Lane Dixon
- R. Lee Ermey as Buck Olmstead
- William Fichtner as Jack McGinnis
- Ted Levine as Deputy Nate Braden
- Walton Goggins as Bud (credited as Walt Goggins)
- Maggie Roswell as Fae
- Allison Smith as Becky
- Julio Oscar Mechoso as Jorge Martinez
- Kevin Cooney as Grant Montgomery
- Leo Burmester as Clyde 'Shorty' Callahan
- Ted Markland as Bartender
- Gregory Scott Cummins as Rick
- Claudia Stedelin as Missy, the Babysitter
- Orville Stoeber as Hector Saldez
- Donnie L. Betts as John, Patrolman
- Mark Curry as Robbie
- Paul Parducci as Man in Shower
- Sandy Ward as Tex Monroe
- Robert Peters as Colorado Trooper
- Christopher Michael as Colorado Trooper
- Tommy Puett as Ben
- Velvet Rhodes as Deputy Sheriff McLaughlin (uncredited)
- Christopher Senger as Bill Suderland (uncredited)