Breakdown (1997) 4.64/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 83.7
Genre: Thriller
Duration: 93 mins
Director: Johnathan Mostow
Stars: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Director Jonathon Mostow reminds us of how thrillers are meant to be made with this nail-biting story of a man (Kurt Russell) searching for his missing wife (Kathleen Quinlin) after their car breaks down in the desert. Opening at a slow and lulling pace, Breakdown hits breakneck speed somewhere around the midpoint stopping only long enough to let the audience catch their breath. Russell is sensational as the frantic husband who can’t seem to convince anyone that his wife has been kidnapped. As the low-key family man who doesn’t want any trouble but (like every man) is capable of doing a Straw Dogs if you push him far enough, he gets his character’s personality right on the money. Quinlan similarly hits all the right notes as his soon to be missing wife and his frequent co-star, the late great J.T. Walsh is also on hand to provide some terrific support as the suspicious truck-driver who Russell believes has all the answers. The last word should be reserved for Mostow who constructs this thriller in textbook fashion. It’s not easy to build such a breathless tension and maintain it for two thirds of the film but through patience, discipline, and no small amount of craft with the camera, he does it with ease. And as if all this wasn’t impressive enough he and his two editors (Derek Brechin and Kevin Stitt) round off this minor masterpiece with one of the most perfectly executed chase sequences ever committed to celluloid. Brilliant.

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5 thoughts on “Breakdown (1997)”

  1. This really is a nail-biter. The director does an amazing job of keeping you at the edge of your seat for the entire length of the film. Russell convinced me of his desperation with every scene and J.T. Walsh is stellar as always as the baddie. Well done, Derek!

  2. LOVE this movie. Great review. I have always liked Mostow and he has a great command of his material, suspense and actors here. And that chase sequence! Just killer. I rated it at a 92. Thanks for the write up!

    1. Cheers Vic. It’s one of my personal favourites. Glad to know there are more fans out there. It’s far too underrated for me. Could never understand why. Maybe because Russell’s star was waning at the time it was made and there are no other heavy hitters in the cast. But everyone in it is a first class actor. Mostow probably never got the fame he deserved but as you said he is seriously talented. Mystery. Thanks for stopping by Vic:)

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