Breakdown is a chilling thriller that starts well, but stumbles in its climax. Jeff and Amy Taylor (Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan) are travelling cross country from Massachusetts to California, when their Jeep breaks down on a dusty western road. When a friendly trucker, Red Barr (J.T. Walsh), drops by to lend a hand, the Taylors are in a quandry. Some locals in a beatup truck had harrassed them earlier, and Jeff doesn’t want to leave their Jeep alone by the road. Amy decides to ride into town with Red, while Jeff stays with their car. When Amy is long overdue to return, Jeff begins to search for her. However, the locals of the nearby town claim to know nothing. Even the police are suspicious of his claims. However, Jeff refuses to give up…something is suspicious around town, and he won’t stop until he finds his wife. The setup for Breakdown is handled skillfully, as the film establishes its edge-of-your-seat tone, and a chilling sense of paranoia. The movie begins to break down, however, once the actual scheme is revealed about halfway through. Once the enemy has a face, the film isn’t as compelling. Sure, there are a couple good action scenes left, and a tense standoff or two, but as the film continues you can sense it unravelling. The film begins to do things because it is what is expected, rather than what would serve the film best. But, still, this is a good action film. Kurt Russell is back in his everyman best, an unlikely action hero in a pastel polo shirt. M.C. Gainey and Jack Noseworthy are appropriately creepy as some locals. Kathleen Quinlan, however, isn’t given much to do, as she goes missing fairly early on. The sound in Breakdown is very well done; you feel the rumbling of trucks right down to your spine. Overall, you should enjoy Breakdown, but you’ll leave with the feeling that it could have been done a little bit better.
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