MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -3

Movies don't get much more exciting than this thriller about a maverick FBI agent on a mission. Frank (Dennis Quaid) defies all regulations in his search for a serial killer that leads him from Washington, D.C., to Amarillo, Texas, to remote villages high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. At the same time, Lane (Tom Bellingham), a mysterious hitchhiker, is picked up outside Amarillo by Bob (Danny Glover), an outgoing, talkative black man. Lane is headed for Salt Lake City, and Bob assures him he can take him there. Frank shows up in Amarillo to investigate a murder that has all the earmarks of a serial killer the FBI has been tracking for months. Clues lead Frank to Colorado and the two strangers. By this time, Bob has rescued Lane from a gang of thugs, and the hitchhiker begins to open up to his new friend. Bob is well known and genuinely liked by storekeepers, mechanics and railroad personnel who look forward to the jovial black man's frequent visits. The chase intensifies, more terrible killings occur, and three desperate men fight for their lives in many death-defying situations. This "who-dun-it" keeps audiences on the edge of their seats as one startling revelation after another unfolds. Suspensful and action-packed, SWITCHBACK has a strong plot that will attract mystery lovers.

The killer's trademark is cutting the femoral artery in his victim's groin, causing them to quickly bleed to death. These killings, plus an unnecessarily graphic closeup of Lane performing a life-saving tracheotomy on a lunch counter, are hard to watch. Many stabbings, gun threats, car wrecks, and life-threatening beatings that the chased and chasers endure are sometimes overdone with blood and gore. Also, the 17 profanities, 11 obscenities and many crude expressions serve no purpose. Although there are no sex scenes, Bob drives an old Cadillac he has decorated with posters of nude women which are focused on several times. Frank's defiance and refusal to obey his boss's orders are explained eventually, and he emerges as a strong family man and seeker of justice. Another strong character is the Texas sheriff who befriends Frank and risks his career to help the rebellious agent. Those who enjoy mysteries will choose to pass on SWITCHBACK because of the gratuitous language and violence.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Paramount Communications, 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (18) times - Mild 13, Moderate 5

Obscene Language: Many (11) times - S-word 6, f-word 3, other 2

Profanity: Many (17) times - Regular 13 (GD 10, hope to God 1, swear to God 1, slang for Jesus 1), exclamatory 4 (oh my God)

Violence: Many times - Moderate and Severe (bloody killings with knife, vicious beating with kicks to stomach, gun threats, falls off mountain, man impaled on tree)

Sex: None

Nudity: Few times (full breast exposure in photos of nude women)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking in bar scene


Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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