Breakdown is a tense, tight and lean thriller.
To summarize the story in this review would ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it. But, I can, carefully, tell the premise without giving away the film. Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan play a married couple, Jeff and Amy Taylor. They are on a cross-country road trip in their new red Jeep Grand Cherokee. As Jeff is driving, out from nowhere swerves a pick-up truck and barely hits them. Jeff speeds up to put some distance between him and the pick-up truck. But at the next gas station, the guys in the pick-up truck meet up with Jeff. They exchange a few words and that’s the end of that. At least that’s what Jeff thinks. As he and Amy speed off from the gas station, they get so far and then the Jeep dies in the middle of the desert. They don’t know what to do. And to make matters worse, the guys in the pick-up just past them, and are perched somewhat further up the road watching Jeff and Amy like vultures. That is until a good Samaritan 18-wheeler truck driver stops by and helps push the Jeep off to the side of the road. The 18-wheeler truck driver, played by J.T. Walsh, looks at the Jeep, but is unable to fix it. He then offers to drive Jeff and Amy to the next rest stop. Jeff wants to stay with the Jeep but Amy wants to go to the next stop to make a call to have a tow truck get the Jeep. So they split up. Jeff staying with the Jeep and Amy going off to the rest stop. Jeff quickly finds the problem to the Jeep and drives over to the rest stop to pick up Amy. But, she is not there. The owner has not seen her. Jeff, now frantic, drives around and spots the 18-wheeler. He forces the 18-wheeler to stop and questions the driver he says he doesn’t know who Jeff is and has no idea what he is talking about. And it is here where the story goes full speed ahead.
There are enough twists and turns in this movie to make one’s head spin. The collection of bad guys is more than enough. The movie takes a very basic approach to get the audience to follow along, and that is with the question, will Jeff find his wife? And it is this basic approach that gives the movie it’s tense, tight and lean feel. Kurt Russell does a good job at portraying a desperate man with a strong want to find his lost wife. And worth mentioning is Basil Poledouris' haunting score to the film. The director and co-writer Jonathon Mostow does a good job at keeping the film moving and keeping our attention focused on Jeff’s problem at hand.
Breakdown is a great thriller released in a slow season. If you have a chance to catch this film in the theatres, do so. If not, be sure to put this film on your video must-see list.