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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.


Jonathan Mostow


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




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


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


No-one is safe from chance See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The Sheriff drives a 1992 Ford Crown Victoria Police Package [P72]. See more »


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 »


Red: [Looking at the engine bay of Jeff's jeep which has broken down] Y'know, it used to be you give these things a kick and a holler, and they start right up. Now they've got computers and chips...
Jeff: It *is* a new car.
Red: Y'know, that could be it. You've been riding this thing pretty hard? 'Coz they tend to overheat when they're new.
Jeff: [Sheepishly] Yeah, a little... .
See more »

Alternate Versions

German version was edited to remove sight of Kathleen Quinlan moving the gearshift of the pickup-truck (so it looks like Red Barr's truck falls down by itself). See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Independence Day (1983) (2016) See more »


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

User Reviews

First-Rate Action Suspense Thriller.
28 September 2013 | by AaronCapenBannerSee all my reviews

Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan play Jeff & Amy Taylor, who are traveling by car across country to California. After stopping at a gas station, they develop engine trouble in the middle of the desert. Desperate, his wife agrees to a ride with a friendly trucker(played memorably by J.T. Walsh), who promises to get them help. When she doesn't return(and after the car starts working again) Jeff drives back into town, only to find to his dismay that not only isn't his wife there, but that they never showed up at all. He does find the trucker, only to be shocked when told by him that he doesn't know what he's talking about! Thus begins a game of cat and mouse, hunter and hunted between Jeff and a particularly nasty gang of kidnappers, demanding ransom.

Extremely exciting film involves the viewer with the couple's plight right away, and seldom goes wrong. Direction by Jonathan Mostow is efficient and inspired, and the performances really ring true, as does the smart script, leading to a cliffhanging climax.

Cautionary tale about not going along with strangers works well as a variation on "Duel". Not to be missed.

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Release Date:

2 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Breakdown See more »


Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,307,128, 4 May 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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