- Directed by Tom Gries
- May 22, 1975
A shady pilot is hired to go to Mexico as part of a daring plot to free an innocent man.
Breakout is a mid-70s action film starring Charles Bronson as Nick Colton who is a pilot of questionable character hired by Ann Wagner (Jill Ireland). She is the wife of Jay Wagner (Robert Duvall) who is sitting in a Mexican prison after his grandfather Harris Wagner (John Huston) framed him for a murder to ensure his silence. Supposedly this film is based in part on a real event involving the CIA.
Bronson shines in a role lighter than what he is known for. He’s not his usual tougher than tough and more macho than macho but he is definitely a manly man of the era. He’s a bit of a con artist and smooth talker yet at the same time kind of charming and a bit humorous. Essentially a charming asshole.
Jill Ireland’s character of Ann confuses me. Truth be told I’m not exactly sure why she wants her husband free. It seems like Ann would make out pretty well if her husband did not make it back from prison. He’s a jerk and a touch on the emotionally abusive side but apparently she cares enough for him that she doesn’t want to see him die in prison.
Randy Quaid has a small part as Bronson’s business partner Hawk Hawkins and John Huston of all people plays the duplicitous grandfather. His part felt a little like it was added in after everything else was done. The only person he interacted with was his lawyer (?) Cable (Paul Mantee) who was also a hitman on the side.
Adding in another celebrity to a film after principal photography is done is one of those things that seems to occur pretty frequently these days but I’m not sure how often it happened back when this came out. Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo and even Nicolas Cage come to mind as having participated in such. Heck these John Huston scenes could’ve easily been filmed in his home office.
Ann and Nick develop an attraction to one another. Nick takes on the task of saving Ann’s husband in earnest quite possibly because he has an affection for her. They try a few ideas with varying degrees of success. What Nick understands but Ann does not is that somebody is sabotaging their efforts. This doesn’t come to too much until the end of the film when the grandfather who is out of options takes a more direct approach to his problem.
The status of the relationship between Harve (Alan Vint) and Nick is a little weird. When they first encounter each other in the story it looks like Harve is a total stranger but by the end of the movie it is clear they have known each other for some time. I think the escape could’ve used a little more excitement. I think it was directed fine but that it could’ve been done a little better to make things feel more dangerous. As it is the prisoners coming towards the helicopter came off a bit like a zombie horde coming towards the escape vehicle.
And once again Bronson and Ireland’s chemistry is what helps propel their own on screen relationship. It really pays to act with your wife. There is something there between the characters and Nick would like it to be something more, but he also knows she is not quite what he can get.
Breakout is a decent action film but it is also a good idea that could’ve been executed a little better. For hard-core Bronson fans this is a must see. For the casual moviegoer you won’t be disappointed if you catch it but it’s not something you necessarily need to search out.