Kurt Russell has a serious problem. He had a wife, but now she’s gone! And this ‘gone’ is not the sort of gone where the wife went away on her own terms, no, she’s missing. How could this have happened? Well, it all started when Kurt Russell and his wife were having a road trip and their car broke down (hence the title Breakdown). And so, the wife takes a ride with a very nice truck driver to the nearest little town to call for help. But things take a turn for the worse when the wife doesn’t return.
Now Kurt Russell has to find out what happened, where she is and why this once-so friendly trucker says he doesn’t know the woman nor has he ever met. The beginning of a twisting and turning – and above all else – exciting adventure!
Let there be no doubt that Breakdown is without a doubt a thriller, but as a mystery things don’t work out nicely. Perhaps this was never the intent of the movie to begin with. You know pretty early on who is the bad guy and what might’ve went down in terms of the sudden disappearance of Kurt Russell‘s wife.
The focus of the film is all about the action and the way the main character has to jump a thousand hoops to find out the truth about his missing wife.
Breakdown takes its sweet time to get going, but that’s an okay thing. The first 45 minutes is all about molding the story and crafting the characters. The atmosphere is nail-biting but relaxing at the same time, a strange mix of two opposing things that seem to do the job. As a spectator, you root for Kurt Russell of course and you hope he finds his missing wife. The story itself is being told as realistic as you can expect from an American Hollywood popcorn movie, although it has to be said this movie is far more intelligent than most action-packed thrillers.
Actor Kurt Russell is running his legs off, but still manages to provide his character with the necessary emotions. Not an easy job given his role was given as much depth as the simple plot of the movie. From time to time he is very convincing when you read the desperation on his face.
The late J.T. Walsh is also present in this movie. Here’s an actor who enjoyed much respect amongst his fellow cast members as well as anyone working in Hollywood, but he wasn’t all that famous in the end. Pity though as he’s easily one of the greatest actors of his generation. So much so in fact that Jack Nicholson dedicated his Oscar for As good as it gets to this man (they had starred side by side in Hoffa and A few good men) because he felt J.T. Walsh was one of the very best actors he’d ever worked with.
In this action thriller, the man is clearly a bad guy but he plays the part so well you never end up hating him. Quite a feat!
The part of the wife (we’ve been talking back and forth about her, time to mention who plays the role, wouldn’t you say?) is in the hands of the beautiful Kathleen Quinlan, a measly supporting role but not one without its crucial influence. Hard on the eyes is how her absence bleeds throughout the movie as you realize you may never again see her in the flesh.
Director of the movie is Jonathan Mostow who isn’t the biggest player in Hollywood, but he’s had a couple of successes. Still, the only movie that comes close to the quality of his breakthrough-movie Breakdown is the third not-so-disappointing-as-one-may-suggest-and-ultimately-quite-entertaining-blockbuster Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
did you know?
In the original script there’s another scene after the bridge climax, with Jeff and Amy back at the farm talking to the FBI. The film finishes with the line by Amy, “Next time, we fly”.
This was deemed out of place and dropped.
Give it to me straight:
Breakdown will not break any new ground in the action genre, but it’s a movie worthy of being labeled as a more than decent enough adventure thriller. The acting performances are fun to look at (especially the dangerous ping-pong game between Kurt Russell and J.T. Walsh) and the action in the second half of the movie grabs you firmly by the shoulders and shakes you up and down a few times. The end is pretty half-fast commercial Hollywood stuff, no big surprises there, but it’s satisfying … and isn’t that the ultimate goal of any movie?