Breakdown (1997)

Directed by Jonathan Mostow 
Written by Jonathan Mostow & Sam Montgomery 

Kurt Russell, JT Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, MC Gainey, Jack Noseworthy, Rex Linn, Ritch Brinkley, Moira Sinese, Jack McGee. 

In my re-watch of the mid 1990’s films, is a tense action thrill ride from the get go, right up until the closing credits. Russell plays Jeff, who is moving cross country with wife Amy (Quinlan). When their car breaks down on a deserted stretch of road in the middle of the New Mexico desert, they are relieved when truck driver Walsh drives by and offers to take her to call for help. When no one comes, Jeff (having fixed the car) – goes off on the search for her, but he finds that she has gone missing, and it becomes clear he can trust no one on his search to find her. 

It was about twenty years since I last saw this, and I forgot how good it was. The tension starts almost immediately, and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the compact 90m runtime. The real mystery of the movie begins at the 20 minute mark, and doesn’t let up for the remaining 70.

There are some seriously impressive stunts (by obvious stunt performers, which somewhat takes us out of the true tension) throughout, special mention to the scene where a character is climbing underneath a driving truck! 

The score from the late Basil Poledouris complements the action well, and almost eeriness adds to the characters predicaments throughout.

The locations are so isolated, which adds to the mystery and what Jeff is going through. I have reviewed a few 90’s movies which has similar location scene where characters are trapped in a vast area (The Edge, The River Wild). Here it adds to what the character is going through, and not knowing who to trust (the police etc), and the feeling of isolation. The location becomes its own character yet again.

The late great JT Walsh, who was the ‘go to’ villain in the 1990s, is great as the antagonist here also.  He sadly passed away not long after this film was made) was always great to watch.  

 3 ½ /5

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