Directed and Co-Written by Jonathan Mostow
Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) are starting a new life along with new jobs out in California. When their jeep breaks down Amy is held hostage by Warren “Red” Barr (J. T. Walsh) who appeared to be a friendly trucker and now Jeff must get his wife back before it is too late.
The overall concept is well executed here, but even so there is nothing exceptional or unique about this thriller. The hero through a series of mistakes by the bad guys finds himself able to save the day. That is what it comes down to. That is not an insult. You are here for the action. You’re watching this for the vicarious thrill of what you would hope you would be able to do by watching Kurt Russell who does a good job as a normal guy who stepped up to the challenge of having to save his wife.
You may wonder why the character of Jeff does not seek help from the local authorities. This is a sleepy town and probably the only type of environment this scenario could work in. These are small-town cops who probably see nothing more serious than a speeding ticket.
The ending is just one long and great fight for survival. Despite the heavy presence of guns in the movie and among the villains, there is not much shooting in the film. It is a lot of punching and hitting with blunt objects and the use of vehicles to ram things and other vehicles. That takes a little more creativity than a gun battle. My only quibble is at the very end. There is a final conflict between Jeff and the leader of the group and when it is all said and done, he falls down on some rocks as his truck hangs from a bridge. The truck itself remains dangling from the bridge until the wife releases a break to finally crush the villain to death. It seemed a little gratuitous. These kinds of things happened a lot in action films around that time. It was a lazy way to cap off the story and get “justice” for the good guys. It does not harm the film but as I said it is gratuitous.
Jonathan Mostow is a director with a thin directing resume and a quality level that is hit or miss. U-571 is perhaps his best known and best received directorial effort. And that movie apparently caused controversy. There’s nothing controversial here. The movie just needed a little more polish.
This forgotten Kurt Russell thriller is very entertaining. It is exciting with plenty of while not unexpected, entertaining twists and turns. It is a by the book film that manages to keep you interested. Breakdown is built around the reality that thousands of people mysteriously disappear when they take road trips every year. Breakdown is an enjoyable movie that for some reason has been forgotten. If you have a chance check it out.