Breakdown (1997)

Here's something that you don't see every day:  a Hollywood action-
thriller that knows when to say when.  Never-aging actors Kurt Rus-
sell and Kathleen Quinlan play a California-bound couple, whose 
bright red, brand-spanking-new Jeep Cherokee (with Massachusetts 
plates) breaks down on a secondary road, somewhere in the South-
west.  A trucker (J.T. Walsh, Our Favorite Heavy) stops and offers 
them a ride.  She goes, he stays, and, not much later, she's no-
where to be found.  Russell goes slightly nuts, flags down the 
trucker, and hears those words that we never want to hear outside 
of a movie theater:  "I've never seen you before in my life."  And 
you can take it from there.  (Or watch the trailer, which reveals a 
bit more.)

BREAKDOWN is balanced on every front, from pacing to photography to 
suspense to sound effects.  (Is there a sweeter music than that of 
the shifting of truck gears?)  Most impressive:  director and co-
screenwriter Jonathan Mostow actually allows his everyman hero to 
*behave* like an everyman.  (Well, okay, Russell does impersonate 
Indiana Jones in one scene.)  This guy has to think on his feet 
and, often, he's at a loss for what to do.  And while some of his 
decisions are better than others, *all* of our hero's actions are 
based on such determined determination that you may catch yourself 
trying to talk back to the screen!  "No, don't do that, do this!"  
Just rent the whole damn theater for yourself.  Superb.  (Rated 
"R"/95 min.)

Grade: A

Copyright 1997 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: April 27, 1997

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