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Breakdown (1997)

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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 »
3,989 ( 1,675)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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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 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


A cross-country trip. An unexpected breakdown. The trap has been set. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

2 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A félelem országútján See more »


Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,307,128, 4 May 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$50,129,186, 17 August 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Kurt Russell has starred with J.T. Walsh three times before, in Tequila Sunrise (1988), Backdraft (1991), and Executive Decision (1996). See more »


When Jeff first meets Red, Red is wearing a striped shirt. When Jeff encounters Red with the sheriff, Red is wearing a red shirt. See more »


Al: If I never see another couple from Massachusetts it'll be too soon.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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


References Duel (1971) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Hang on Lady, We Go For a Ride
26 December 2012 | by piratecannonSee all my reviews

It takes a lot for me to designate a thriller as utterly and completely mesmerizing, but such is the case with the 1997 Kurt Russell vehicle Breakdown. I stumbled upon this gem when it was released on VHS some 10+ years ago, and, as I recently browsed the somewhat deflated selection of films available in my "Watch Instantly" Netflix queue, decided to give it another go. Once again diving headlong into this ballet of desert highway carnage was like getting reacquainted with an old friend; consequently, this has caused me to lament the stale-by- comparison state of many recent "road rage thrillers" offered up by Hollywood.

If you've never seen Breakdown, it could be described as a more intelligent version of Joy Ride (or, perhaps, The Hitcher). It's about a married couple named Jeff (Russell) and Amy (Quinlan) who are driving cross country—from Boston to San Diego—to take on more lucrative employment opportunities. Along the way, they almost collide with a local in a pick-up truck on a remote desert highway. When they stop at the next gas station, the fella driving the truck—a black-clad hombre with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat—proceeds to chew out Jeff for his idiotic behavior behind the wheel. The two eventually call a truce, part ways, and go about their lives. It's not long, however, before Jeff's brand new Jeep inexplicably breaks down. As the couple is trying to assess the situation, a man in an 18-wheeler stops, offers assistance, and eventually ends up suggesting the pair ride with him to the nearest town so they can call a tow truck. Jeff is leery about leaving his car on the side of a highway with a local lunatic on the prowl, so Amy hops in the semi, presumably to wait for her husband at a diner as he figures out what to do. Once she leaves, Jeff discovers the problem, fixes the car, and heads to the diner. When he gets there, though, Amy is nowhere to be found. The locals have no idea who she is, and they all claim to have never seen her. What ensues is a maddeningly wild goose chase across barren southwestern terrain as Jeff does everything in his power to find his spouse.

There are twists and turns aplenty, and the action is great. The most disturbing thing about the film is how genuine it all seems. I have no trouble believing that something like this could (and perhaps has) occur in such remote locales, and there's a real sense of desperation to everything that's unfolding. Russell is great as the panicked husband who knows he's going to have to take things to the extreme to get his wife back, and almost—almost—every one of his decisions seems completely rational. The movie does give way to certain conventions from time to time, and I wish it would've built up the paranoia just a little longer before the "big reveal" occurs (a la Arlington Road), but there's no denying the intensity on display here.

That being said, who's ready for a road trip?

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