Breakdown (1997)


Jeffrey Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy are driving cross country to California when their car stutters and grinds to a halt at the side of the road. Stranded and with no phone signal, they can’t call for a tow truck. As they are trying to figure out what to do a truck comes down the road. The driver, Red (J.T. Walsh) offers to take Amy to the next town so she can call for a tow truck. Amy gets into Red’s truck while Jeff waits with the car.


Hours pass and there is still no sign of Amy returning with a tow truck. Jeff becomes worried and manages to get his car working. He drives to the next stop to see if his wife is there. The folks inside the cafe say that there was no woman fitting the description of Amy that passed through. Jeff goes to the police to report his wife missing. Later on when Jeff is driving he sees Red’s truck. He gets Red to pull over. Only when Jeff asks Red where Amy is, Red claims he has never met Jeff before in his life. Jeff leaves puzzled. He is then contacted and told that if he ever wants to see his wife alive he will have to pay a ransom.


Jeff is then faced with a race against time to get the money, which he doesn’t have, and pay it to the kidnappers. The only problem is he doesn’t know who to trust, as the police could be in on it too. Jeff knows he must take matters into his own hands if Amy stands a chance of surviving her ordeal.


I really dig this movie. First reason is that the story is very plausible. It’s done in such a way that you really think something like this could happen to anyone. Everything is played to such believable effect, that it just heightens the suspense that already permeates throughout the movie. Kurt Russell is always worth watching, and he really lends Jeff a really believable everyman quality, that you are urging him to succeed. The late  J.T. Walsh was always brilliantly cast as the sneering villain, and he delivers again here. As Red he really gives the film a sense of menace, that you doubt if Jeff will succeed in his plight. I really, really recommend this movie. It is a solid little thriller that is well worth a watch.




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