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(1997) (Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme Heavy
Moderate None Heavy None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
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Suspense/Thriller: A man searches for his wife whoís disappeared after she accepts a ride with a trucker to get help for their broken down car.
Jeff (KURT RUSSELL) and Amy Taylor (KATHLEEN QUINLAN) are driving from Massachusetts to San Diego to start their new life. As they cross the western deserts, however, their truck breaks down. Theyíre in luck, though, when an eighteen wheeler stops and Red Barr (J.T. WALSH) offers to help. Jeff doesnít want to leave their truck due to a recent run in with Earl (M.C. GAINEY), a local he nearly crashed into. So Amy accepts a ride with Red saying she'll meet Jeff later at a local diner. In the meantime, Jeff fixes his truck and heads to the diner to meet Amy, but no one there has seen her. Things get worse when Jeff finds Red who claims heís never seen him or Amy before in his life and another local, Billy (JACK NOSEWORTHY), claims the police are involved. From that point on, Jeff finds out whoís responsible and then takes action to safely get Amy back.
Younger children wonít, but teenagers will if theyíre drawn by anyone in the cast, or after they hear how good a thriller this is.
For strong violence/terror and language.
  • KURT RUSSELL plays a husband who goes to desperate (and understandable) measures to find and rescue his wife.
  • J.T. WALSH plays the villain who takes Amy for ransom and runs Jeff through the ringer in the process.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    A bit of a mix of "The Vanishing" and "The Road Warrior," this film starts off slowly and like an eighteen-wheeler rolling down hill, gains more and more momentum as the story progresses. While itís very similar to "The Vanishing" in that a manís wife disappears and he desperately tries to find her, this film is far superior to that remake of several years ago. The film is rather deceptive in that once Russell figures out whoís responsible for taking his wife you start to feel like the movieís over -- that the suspense is done with. Ah, but quite the contrary. After theyíve dispensed with those formalities, the film makers really get to work in creating a top notch, edge of your seat thriller that keeps getting better as it races toward its conclusion. Of course you know how itís going to end, but like a roller coaster, the fun is in the suspense of getting there and not knowing when or where the hills and turns are going to show up. None of this is remotely original, but itís done in such a unique way that it has a fresh, raw feel to it that only adds to its overall impression. Russell is completely believable in the role of the harried husband who finds himself in a "Twilight Zone" type plot where nobody believes what heís saying and he begins to slowly question his sanity. Likewise, the "bad guys" are equally realistic and at no point do you doubt that they mean business. Unlike the normal cardboard cut-out villains, these guys have a chilling presence about them that heightens the suspense. Although no time is taken for character development -- and there's actually little time for that to happen any way -- the film survives this deficiency and still shines as an example of a well made thriller. Audiences will love the suspense and will root for Kurt Russell to succeed, just as we did. We give "Breakdown" a thrilling 7.5 out of 10.
    This is definitely not a film for younger kids. The subject matter is a bit extreme, and the numerous tense scenes and accompanying tense music is too much for younger viewers. Whether you find this film appropriate for older teens is up to you. It does include 20+ "f" words and others, and thereís a great deal of mean and viscous behavior on the part of Red and the other bad guys. Several people are killed and thereís a moderate amount of bloodshed, but sexual content is limited to just one line of dialogue. This is a true "edge of your seat" thriller, so parents should be warned about that and should examine all of the content to decide whether they and/or their children should see this film.

  • Earl comes out of the gas station carrying a six-pack of beer.
  • People drink beer in a run-down diner.
  • Some of the bad guys drink beer at Redís house.
  • Jeff sees a woman throwing up into a dinerís toilet.
  • Thereís a little bit of blood on Jeffís head after heís been knocked out.
  • Earlís rather bloody after Jeff stabs him in the chest with a letter opener and then repeatedly punches him in the face.
  • A police officer is very bloody after being shot.
  • One of the bad guys has a bloody shoulder after heís been shot.
  • Redís bloody at the end of the movie, as is Amy whose leg gets slightly mangled in their wrecked truck.
  • Red and everyone else involved in Amyís abduction have serious cases of both.
  • Many scenes listed under "Violence" are also very suspenseful and tense.
  • Jeff has two quick, but very close brushes of crashing into other vehicles in two scenes.
  • Earl shows up with a rifle and then proceeds to chase Jeff in their trucks. Jeff then comes to a dead-end cliff and seeing no other way out, drives his truck over the edge and down into the river where it begins to sink. He gets out, but Earl starts shooting at him, and heís then swept away by the riverís rapids.
  • Jeff runs and pulls himself up under Redís truck and then slowly maneuvers his way toward the cab, always in danger of falling off as the truck drives along at high speeds.
  • Jeff sees that the bad guys have Amy in a burlap bag and they take her into a hidden garage basement.
  • Jeff creeps through Redís house trying to sneak up on the bad guys. He gets them at gunpoint, but Redís son shows up with a shotgun and thereís a tense stand-off.
  • The entire end of the movie is one long suspense sequence where Red tries to run over Jeff and Amy. Later, all of the bad guys try to kill them and it all ends with one big cliffhanger of a scene.
  • Handguns/Rifles: Used to threaten, injure or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Sh*t for brains," "Shut up" and "Jerk."
  • Jeff speeds while driving down the desert highway.
  • Kidnapping others for money (not that kids will likely do this, but you never know).
  • None.
  • There is a heavy amount of suspenseful music throughout the entire film.
  • None.
  • 21 "f" words (1 with the prefix "mother"), 14 "s" words, 1 slang term for breasts (the "t" word), 14 hells, 8 "ass" words (3 used with "hole"), 7 S.O.B.ís, 4 damns, and 7 uses of "God damn," 4 uses of "Jesus," 2 uses of "Swear to God," and 1 use each of "Oh Christ," "Christ," and "For Christís sakes" as exclamations.
  • Red describes Amy as "115 pounds, two-thirds of it tits...(and) nice curly hair, upstairs and down..."
  • People smoke in a run-down diner.
  • Red smokes a cigarette.
  • Jeff must deal with the fact that Amy has disappeared.
  • People who disappear and are then labeled as "missing."
  • Kidnaping.
  • Accepting rides from strangers who offer to help.
    (Important plot points are given away in the following (particularly at the end). Read on at your own discretion)
  • The owner of the diner aims his handgun at Jeff after he thinks heís got a crazed man on his hands.
  • Earl chases and then shoots his rifle at Jeff who tries to escape.
  • Jeff turns around and Billy knocks him out.
  • Earl threatens to shoot Jeff, whoís in a carís trunk, if he doesnít cooperate.
  • One of the men hits Jeff from behind and knocks him to the ground.
  • Red threatens to send pieces of Amy back to Jeff "one piece at a time" if he doesnít cooperate with their plan.
  • Earl threatens to shoot Jeff if he doesnít give him the money that Jeffís withdrawn for them. Earl then ties up Jeff with duct tape and makes him get into the truck. Moments later, he punches Jeff who canít defend himself. Jeff, however, has a letter opener that he uses to free himself and then stabs it into Earlís chest. Earl draws his gun and the two struggle with it and itís fired several times. Jeff finally punches and kicks Earl and takes control, and then punches him several more times. Wrapping duct tape around Earlís neck amd the headrest, Jeff then drives and slams on the brakes, choking Earl each time.
  • A police officer arrives and orders Jeff to the ground. Earl manages to free himself and shoots the officer and tries to shoot Jeff, but the officer manages one last shot that kills Earl.
  • Jeff creeps through Redís house trying to sneak up on the bad guys. He gets them at gunpoint, but Redís son shows up with a shotgun and thereís a tense stand-off. Jeff then knocks the shotgun aside, it discharges and hits one of the bad guys in the arm. Billy races off and Jeff takes the others out of the house at gunpoint.
  • Jeff kicks Red in the face.
  • Red drives his truck through a trailer home trying to run over Jeff and Amy.
  • The bad guys drive up alongside Jeff and Amy and fire shots at them, blowing out their windows. Jeff shoot back at them and two of the cars end up crashing, but Red continues to chase them, ending as he pushes their smaller truck across and up onto the side of a bridge. Jeff repeatedly hits Red who manages to kick Jeff until heís hanging from the truck. He then tries to hit him with a chain. Moments later, Red falls to the rocks below and then has the truck fall onto him.

  • Reviewed April 26, 1997

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