Forgotten Film Friday: Kurt Russell in ‘Breakdown’


by: Adam Glass

Breakdown – 1997

It was one of the best thrillers of the 90’s and it’s not even out on Blu Ray!!!! What is wrong with the world!?!  I guess this makes Breakdown a contender for Forgotten Film Friday.

The plot is simple.  Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) are taking a road trip cross county from Boston to San Diego in their Jeep Grand Cherokee. All is well until another vehicle almost collides with them. Hostile words are exchanged and then everyone is on their way again. Unfortunately, the Jeep breaks down a little while later.  A nice trucker sees the couple and offers to give Amy a ride to a nearby diner to call for a tow while Jeff stays with their vehicle. She accepts and leaves with the trucker. A little while later Jeff finds that the battery connections has been tampered with. After he fixes it, he drives to the diner to get his wife only to find out she is gone and no one has seen her. What happens next sends Jeff on a rollercoaster of a ride for the rest of the day.

Breakdown plays out like an episode of 24, where Jeff needs to do some crazy stuff to try and figure out where his wife went to. The 90 minute running time feels like 45 minutes and that’s a good thing because Director Jonathan Mostow (U-571, Terminator 3) doesn’t let the film drag for one minute. The true highlight of the film is the performance by the late, great J.T. Walsh (A Few Good Men, Good Morning Vietnam plus too many other classics to mention) as Red Barr, the trucker with the heart of gold (or is it?). He died of a heart attack nine months after this film was released. This film also benefits from M.C. Gainey (Lost) in a sadistic performance.

I don’t want to give away the whole plot in case you haven’t seen it but please do if you can find a copy on DVD. It’s available through the Netflix mail service as well. Do yourself a favor and make it a double feature with Spielberg’s Duel. You won’t regret it.

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