May 4, 1997 -- "Breakdown" seems like a dumb idea for a movie, but it turns out to be a lot better than the trailer would indicate.
A couple is moving cross-country and they break down in the middle of the dessert. A friendly truck driver passes by and offers to give them a lift to the nearest phone so they can call a tow truck.
The guy Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) decides to stay with the car, while his wife, Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) goes with the truck driver to call the tow truck. The tow truck doesn't come and when Taylor gets his vehicle running again, there's no sign of his wife anywhere.
Frantically searching for his wife, he spots the truck, but the truck driver denies ever having seen him or his wife before. As Taylor probes the mystery he is pulled deep into danger as he unravels a murderous conspiracy.
Although the initial setup is a little shaky, once this drama gets rolling it is really gripping. The plot keeps twisting in new directions just when you think you know where it is heading. The climactic Road Warrior-like action sequence is nutty, but entertaining just the same.
The thing I like most about this movie is that it mostly takes place in the daylight. It makes good use of location shots in the southwest. So many movies these days are shot indoors and in dark places. It is nice to see those bright outdoor images.
Kurt Russell does a fine job as the desperate hero of the film, practically carrying this film on his back, while J.T. Walsh and Jack Noseworthy head up very effective cast of villains. Writers Jonathan Mostow (who also directed the film) and Sam Montgomery have put together a very solid screenplay, cinemaphotographer Douglas Milsome, captures both the action and desolate landscape perfectly and director Mostow really makes the story flow smoothly. It's a little silly and you do have to suspend your disbelief, but it's a thrilling ride. This film rates a B.
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