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About the Movie
Jodie Foster stars as Anne Benton. Anne is an artist who witnesses a mob assassination. The police want her to testify but the mob wants her dead. Anne moves to another state and adopts another identity. Soon after, the mob sends Milo (Dennis Hopper) after her. One look at his target and Milo has a change of heart. He decides that he doesn't want Anne's life, but her love instead. Before long this unlikely couple is on the run from both the mob and the cops. Together they end up dodging bullets while trying to sort out who to trust and who to kill.
A Real “Killer” B Movie (one of 237!)
This review is an excerpt from my book “Killer B’s: The 237 Best Movies On Video You’ve (Probably) Never Seen,” which is available as an ebook on iBooks. If you enjoy this review, there are 236 more like it in the book (plus a whole lot more). Check it out!
BACKTRACK: Artist Anne Benton (Foster) has a flat tire on the freeway one night; as she’s walking for help, she stumbles into a Mob murder. She escapes, but they’re onto her—and after her. A failed hit convinces her of the seriousness of the situation, but when the cops can’t protect her, she “disappears” herself. The Mob calls in Mr. Milo (Hopper), the best hitman in the business.
Mr. Milo’s method of tracking is to get to know everything about the missing person, then intuit her thought process. The cops use computers. They find her simultaneously. She bolts again, this time to New Mexico. Mr. Milo finds her first, but his method has finally backfired on him, and when he confronts her, he offers her a choice: He’ll let her live, but she’ll belong to him. The real twist is that he’s such a sensitive gentleman that she might just grow to like this kinky kidnapping fantasy...
Discussion: “Murder has its sexual side,” reads a line in one of artist Anne’s “language art” machines—and that sums up this stylish modern noir thriller-with-a-difference. Is Anne a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, where kidnap victims identify with their captors—or is there something deeper and more primal at work here?
What sets this film apart from most others is that it is in essence an animus fantasy, as delineated by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung: A woman’s fearful fancy of kidnap and seduction by a dark stranger full of sensual menace. As such, it explicates themes the original noir films could only hint at, like the vagaries of dominance and submission.
“Backtrack” goes to great lengths to show off Foster’s sexy side, and when the pair become “lovers on the lam,” chased by both the Mob and the cops, the humorous undercurrents bubble up—even a simple lover’s spat could prove deadly. Every member of the great cast looks like he or she is having fun. And an entire essay could be written about this film’s curious and circuitous history. (Simply, the video company that produced it for theatrical release went bankrupt, and it sat on a shelf for years before going straight to tape.) “Backtrack” is a fascinating film based on the female psyche; an action flick even women can enjoy.