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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Breakdown (1997)



Reviews and Comments

Call this The Vanishing in a Duel setting, with a healthy dose of original material. Breakdown is an incredibly tense thriller, to the point where it takes physical effort to get through it. Thrillers work best when the dangers hit close to home -- when we can identify with the desperation of the main character and ask ourselves, "My goodness, what would I do if I were him? I'd go out of my mind." Breakdown is just that.

The performances are good, too. Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan play the innocents, and J. T. Walsh plays a seemingly friendly truck driver. The scope of the villain's plot is shocking in the way that it unfolds.

With regard to storytelling, Breakdown falters just twice. Once, when Russell could have taken a gun to a lock and rendered the final showdown unnecessary; and once, more reprehensibly, regarding the disposal of the main badguy. Neither of these errors have very much screen time, and the first is just one of those logical flaws that many movies have. The impact of the film remains powerful, and I recommend it to those who enjoy suspense films.