May 2nd, 1997



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Still of Kathleen Quinlan and Kurt Russell in BreakdownStill of Jonathan Mostow in BreakdownStill of Kathleen Quinlan and Kurt Russell in BreakdownStill of Kurt Russell in BreakdownStill of Kurt Russell in BreakdownStill of Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh and Rex Linn in Breakdown

A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.

Release Year: 1997

Rating: 6.8/10 (21,170 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Stars: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Jeff and Amy Taylor are moving to California and must drive across the country. When they find themselves stranded in the middle of a desert with hardly anyone or anything around, their trip comes to a sudden halt. Amy had taken a ride with a friendly trucker to a small diner to call for help, but after a long time, Jeff becomes worried. He finds that no one in the diner has seen or heard from his wife. When he finds the trucker who gave Amy the ride, the trucker swears he has never seen her. Now Jeff must attempt to find his wife, who has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. But who can he trust?

Writers: Jonathan Mostow, Jonathan Mostow

Kurt Russell - Jeffrey 'Jeff' Taylor
J.T. Walsh - Warren 'Red' Barr
Kathleen Quinlan - Amy Taylor
M.C. Gainey - Earl
Jack Noseworthy - Billy
Rex Linn - Sheriff Boyd
Ritch Brinkley - Al
Moira Sinise - Arleen Barr (as Moira Harris)
Kim Robillard - Deputy Len Carver
Thomas Kopache - Calhoun
Jack McGee - Bartender at Belle's Diner
Vincent Berry - Deke Barr
Helen Duffy - Flo
Ancel Cook - Barfly at Belle's Diner
Gene Hartline - Tow Truck Driver

Taglines: A cross-country trip. An unexpected breakdown. The trap has been set.

Release Date: 2 May 1997

Filming Locations: American River, Sacramento, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $12,307,128 (USA) (4 May 1997) (2108 Screens)

Gross: $50,129,186 (USA) (17 August 1997)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The road outlay in the opening credits sequence is from a map of north central New Mexico. However, the road names have been changed and the landmarks and town names have been changed or new fictitious ones added.

Crew or equipment visible: When Kurt Russell slams his brakes on after being blocked in by the F150 pickup at the construction site, the cameraman is clearly visible in the rearview mirror, as he's sitting directly behind him.

Red: You're a tough man to get a hold of, Jeffery.
Jeff: What do you want?
Red: It's not what I want, it's what you want, and how bad you want it. 'Cause it's gonna cost you. Can't show it to you right now, but it's about 5'5", 115 pounds, three or four of that just pure tit. Nice curly brown hair, upstairs and down. Interested?

User Review

A good movie, and not a bad one: here's why


Within the first few minutes, I could tell this movie was a good one. Why? Because the characters choose appropriate actions based on their motives. Here's a few examples:

(Spoilers ahead)

When Kurt Russell confronts the guy in the truck at the gas station in the very beginning, and his wife asks him what who he was, in a bad movie he would have said no one. Here he explains that it was the same guy from before, which makes sense.

It doesn't make sense at first when Russell refuses the ride from the trucker, but it is subtly revealed that he doesn't want to leave his car alone. This leads to his wife going off alone, but only after she forces the issue. Russell's motivations here make perfect sense for his actions.

After Russell tapes up the bad guy and is pulled over by the cop, in a bad movie he would have put his gun in the cop's face and tied him up too. Instead, he surrendered and asked for help, just like a reasonable person would.

When Russell latches onto the back of JT Walsh's truck, there's a dramatic sequence where he clings to the bottom of the truck as he makes his way to the front. In a bad movie, this would have led to him climbing into the cab, wresting control of the truck and forcing Walsh to reveal the location of his wife. Instead, he was taking the sensible and important step of getting to a safe and comfortable place to spend the hours-long ride.

Throughout the movie, Russell tries to call for help. In most movies like this, if an attempt is even made to actually use the police, they are invariably disdainful of strangers, in on it, or both. In the brief period where Russell thinks the cops are in on it, he tries to reach an FBI agent. Apart from the period immediately after the cop got shot, he constantly tries to get police help, just like a thinking human being would.

These and many other small things are examples of the screenwriters giving characters reasonable motives in unreasonable situations and allowing the action to unfold. In too many action movies the main character forces the plot with completely irrational behavior. The main character here reacts to the plot evenly with the audience, and it makes him a much more sympathetic hero than the typical action movie.


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