This movie just crashed the Netflix top 10 — thanks to Sylvester Stallone

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The Netflix most-watched movies list can throw up a few surprises. While it’s often dominated by whichever Netflix Original has just hit the service — right now that’s The Man from Toronto — some entries come completely out of left field. 

That’s definitely the case with Backtrace, which is currently ranking as the number four most-watched movie on Netflix U.S. This 2018 action flick stars Sylvester Stallone and on the surface would not appear to be a prime candidate to attract Netflix subscriber interest, but it’s clearly striking a chord with viewers all the same.

What is Backtrace? 

Backtrace is an R-rated action movie that follows a bank robber who suffers brain damage during a heist gone wrong. After developing amnesia, Donovan MacDonald (Matthew Modine) spends seven years in a prison psychiatric ward before being coerced into breaking out by a fellow inmate and the corrupt ward doctor. 

After being injected with a serum that enables him to regain his memory, MacDonald is forced to relive the life he’d forgotten. And, to make matters worse, he’s also got to elude a local detective (Stallone) and a toughened FBI agent (Christopher McDonald) all while trying to recover the stolen money from the bank heist. 

Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough to deal with, the drug also has a number of seriously dangerous side effects.

What do critics say about Backtrace? 

To be blunt, the critics weren’t kind to Backtrace when it was first released four years ago. The pulpy action flick currently scores an abysmal 9% on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab), and its audience score isn’t much better at a very low 23%. 

Among the almost universally negative reviews was one from Leslie Felperin of The Guardian (opens in new tab), who said, “The whole dreary thing looks as if it was put through an Instagram filter called Rotgut that makes everything look like it was soaked in weak coffee and bile.”

There was a more charitable take from Variety’s Joe Leydon (opens in new tab), at least, who stated “Matthew Modine is outstanding as an amnesia-stricken bank robber in Brian A. Miller's VOD-centric thriller.” 

However, it’s fair to say that if you’re looking for a critical darling, then Backtrace is probably not a film that you should be adding to your Netflix watchlist anytime soon.

Should you stream Backtrace?  

Backtrace may be enjoying an unexpected surge in popularity on Netflix right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every viewer is appreciating the film. A quick search on social media displays plenty of Netflix subscribers who agree with the critics on this one. 

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However, the film is also receiving some praise from more recent viewers, and its surge up the Netflix most-watched list would suggest that at least some subscribers are finding something appealing about this very schlocky action flick. So, if you have a high tolerance for cheese, or perhaps just want to consume something that borders on “so bad, it’s good” then maybe give Backtrace a shot. 

Next: this Chris Hemsworth action movie just hit the number 4 spot in Netflix's top 10, despite a critical mauling

Rory Mellon
Deals Editor

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.