Breakdown 1997 Movie Scene Kurt Russell as Jeff Taylor and Kathleen Quinlan as Amy Taylor

Breakdown [1997]

If you are looking for a good thriller, you’ve just found it. Directed by Jonathan Mostow (U-571, Terminator 3, Surrogates), Breakdown is one of those movies about driving. The story is familiar and so are the characters, so the movie feels very immersive. The set up is just perfect, lulling you into a false sense of security and then pulling the rug right under your feet. This is also amplified by the fact that the story is unfolding over a course of 24 hours, making it even more intense.

It kind of reminded me of a much stranger movie with almost the same setting: Retroactive. The whole “car breaks down in the middle of nowhere” concept is very primal in its nature. The city is the safe habitat (caves or villages in prehistoric times) for our protagonists. They possess skills that enable them to thrive in this environment, but this is taking a toll on their “survival” skills (being close to nature, true yourself, and other crap). 

In order to fully develop, they must venture out of their comfort zone. This is the time they are confronted with things that are not so neat and safe. Whether it be a motel with a crazy owner, highway killers, or one of the all-time favorites: rednecks, our heroes must overcome those obstacles and prove their worth. You would think that this type of analysis will hurt this movie, but you would be wrong because Breakdown will break you down.

Jeffrey Taylor and his wife are driving through the American desert on their way to California where Jeffrey just got a new job. Suddenly, their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Jeffrey can’t fix it so his wife Amy hitches a ride to a nearby diner. And that’s when the trouble starts…

Suspenseful as fuck, Breakdown revels in difficult situations, and an engaging storyline. Kurt Russel played his role really well and was convincing, you can see that he is not that classical, self-confident bad-ass that is going to fuck everyone who gets in his way but an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. Plus we have the opportunity to check out one of my favorite supporting actors J.T. Walsh in one of his last roles. He’s that guy you’ve seen in so many movies but can’t remember his name.

Directing is beautiful and there are a lot of scenes with great and almost poetic value. If you like these sorts of movies try Joy Ride or a little older flick Convoy. And finally, do not watch any trailers as this is a ride best had cold. It’s also perfect for playing that game what would you do in that situation?  

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Writers: Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery

Cast: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, Thomas Kopache, Rex Linn, Moira Harris

Fun Facts: Writer/Director Jonathan Mostow got the idea for the film while driving through Las Vegas with his wife.


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