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Breakdown

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4


*Also starring: J.T. Walsh, M.C. Gainey, Jack Noseworthy



Review by David Wilcock
1 star out of 4

BREAKDOWN is a typical reality-breaking action flick, but it isn't marketed as such. The slogan for BREAKDOWN is "It could happen to you." Conceivably, I guess, I could end up hanging under the spare tire holder of an 18-wheeler doing 70 on the highway, but I probably have a better chance of marrying Strom Thurmond. For the first half-hour, BREAKDOWN is completely believable and utterly compelling, but takes a turn toward the absurd once Kurt Russell drives his Jeep off a cliff and ends up floating it down a set of river rapids.

The set-up is a good one. Russell and his wife (Kathleen Quinlan) are on a cross-country trip, in the middle of a desert highway. They almost run into a redneck pickup truck, then are accosted by the selfsame rednecks at the nearest gas station. Plausible in real life -- them rednecks is rude. Then the new car breaks down on the side of the highway and a trucker (J.T. Walsh) stops to help them. Russell has Quinlan accept a ride with Walsh to a diner up the road, where she can call a tow truck. Also plausible.

After awhile, Russell realizes what's wrong with the Jeep and fixes it. Then comes the interesting part. He reaches the diner and no one has seen or heard of his wife. Russell's panic button goes off as a million possibilities cross his mind. We assume the possibilities are crossing his mind, at least, because Russell isn't the most versatile actor in the world. It's all still plausible as Russell races up and down the highway and soon spots the bigrig that picked up his wife.

Walsh denies ever having seen his wife, and the town sheriff is no help in believing one's story over the other. I was wondering at this point just what kind of intelligent explanation they'd have for Quinlan's disappearance, and how Russell could find her again in a believable, roundabout way. To say the people involved in BREAKDOWN took the easy way out is a huge understatement. Instead of giving us some massive conspiracy theory, it turns out it was a kidnapping and the redneck captors want only $90,000. It's THE VANISHING meets DELIVERANCE meets DIE HARD.

BREAKDOWN is one of the smallest-scale action movies of recent years, one that doesn't even deserve summer release status next to the likes of Schwarzenegger and Willis. Still, it's a decent warmup for summer once you get over the fact that the movie, which seems original at the beginning, is just another story about an unlikely hero who has to kill bad guys and escape death to rescue someone close to him. In the world of crazy action movies, there's no room for character development and no time to stop and make sense of what we see onscreen. The BREAKDOWN people use that to their advantage.

Copyright 1997 David Wilcock

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