6.9/10
48,196
269 user 86 critic

Breakdown (1997)

R | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 2 May 1997 (USA)
A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.

Director:

Jonathan Mostow

Writers:

Jonathan Mostow (story), Jonathan Mostow (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kurt Russell ... Jeff Taylor
J.T. Walsh ... Red Barr
Kathleen Quinlan ... Amy Taylor
M.C. Gainey ... Earl
Jack Noseworthy ... Billy
Rex Linn ... Sheriff Boyd
Ritch Brinkley ... Al
Moira Sinise ... Arleen (as Moira Harris)
Kim Robillard ... Deputy Len Carver
Thomas Kopache ... Calhoun
Jack McGee ... Bartender
Vincent Berry Vincent Berry ... Deke
Helen Duffy Helen Duffy ... Flo
Ancel Cook Ancel Cook ... Barfly
Gene Hartline ... Tow Truck Driver
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Storyline

Jeff and Amy Taylor are moving to California and must drive across the country. When they find themselves stranded in the middle of a desert with hardly anyone or anything around, their trip comes to a sudden halt. Amy had taken a ride with a friendly trucker to a small diner to call for help, but after a long time, Jeff becomes worried. He finds that no one in the diner has seen or heard from his wife. When he finds the trucker who gave Amy the ride, the trucker swears he has never seen her. Now Jeff must attempt to find his wife, who has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. But who can he trust? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It could happen to you. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence/terror and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The road outlay in the opening credits sequence is from a map of north central New Mexico. However, the road names have been changed, and the landmarks and town names have been changed, or new fictitious ones added. See more »

Goofs

In a low-angle shot from a car trunk, Earl holds his open palm directly behind the slide of his Beretta as he prepares to fire. Firing a Beretta or any recoil-operated pistol like this would severely injure his hand when the slide snaps backward. See more »

Quotes

Red Barr: Now, before you get any half-baked ideas about calling in the cavalry, just remember we're gonna be watching you every step of the way. And we'll be listening to our police scanners. And if we see anything unusual, an unmarked car or truck, or if we see you talking to anyone who even remotely smells like a cop... well, you can just keep your fucking money, Jeff, and I'll keep your wife. And I'll mail you pieces of her from time to time.
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Alternate Versions

The film originally had a prologue added at the behest of the producers showing Kurt Russell's character as a cameraman in a war zone. He witnesses the death of a young girl and this prompts the cross country trip with his wife to start a new job. Director Jonathan Mostow did not like the opening and asked Paramount to test screen one version with the prologue and one without. After the screenings, the studio executives agreed with Mostow and opted to remove the prologue. See more »

Connections

Features Doom (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Burgers & Fries
(1978)
Written by Ben Peters
Performed by Charley Pride
Courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
See more »

User Reviews

 
"It could happen to you", the tag-line reads: not quite, but it is a white-knuckled ride all the way
27 April 2007 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Jonathan Mostow, before he went on to helm the big-budget U-571 and the even bigger budgeted Terminator 3, brought out this taut little thriller and cemented a reputation he's yet to really live up to (though some would disagree about that). His film has that tag-line, but it's not entirely accurate, even though it has a very familiar and eerily recognizable threat at the core: the outsiders coming in to a territory that is very close knit and practically inbred, where one wrong step could cost you and/or your loved ones lives. In this case, Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan are the married couple caught in the cross-hairs of kidnapping, blackmail, and ultimately vengeance. They're moving from Massachusets to San Diego, and driving on through the desert they get side-swiped by a car, then later on after a near-altercation at a pit-stop, they move on only for the couple's car to breakdown. Help comes in the form of a trucker, who offers help for to drive the wife to get a tow-truck. No need for the truck, anyway, because the car didn't have much wrong with it...but what about the wife, Amy?

From there on in, Mostow takes Breakdown into the realm of paranoid thriller, then into just full-on chase/action/revenge/chase again picture. One might wonder if there could be a more noirish quality to it if the wife actually left for a reason other than abduction, though the path that Mostow takes the story is fine as it is. He keeps things simple in the story sense, with elements of the Western thrown in, but also makes it very much character-based as well. Russell's performance as Jeff Taylor is kind of the opposite of his recent turn as Stuntman Mike in Grindhouse: starting off as the average-Joe who tries to be polite, albeit from a yuppie background, he gets put to the test by the enormity of the situation, and finally becomes a real take-no-prisoners hero. Towards the very end it almost reaches the point of being TOO much of hitting over the head with payback, and there are little things regarding the nature of Red Barr (JT Walsh, great villainous presence in a real sinister, calm way) and his ties to the town as to whether or not things are really as controlling as they might be (i.e. the bank scene, which is perfectly acted, though not entirely feasible in the paranoid sense).

But all this aside, what Breakdown remains ten years after is a competent, un-pretentious thrill-ride where the dialog is never too heavy, the action is packed with real stunts and few special effects, and some of the brighter moments for Russell in recent years (or rather, the last ten). It knows what it is, and has the professional temerity of a cult effort.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Breakdown See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,307,128, 4 May 1997

Gross USA:

$50,159,144

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$50,159,144
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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