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Breakdown (1997)


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 50
Fresh: 40
Rotten: 10

Critics Consensus: A brainy and suspenseful -- if somewhat uneven -- thriller.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 14
Fresh: 11
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: A brainy and suspenseful -- if somewhat uneven -- thriller.


Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 35,553



Movie Info

In this suspense thriller, a man discovers the unexpected danger of trusting a good Samaritan. Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) are driving through the New Mexico desert en route to California when an incident with a lunatic driver causes their jeep to break down in the middle of nowhere. Jeff is trying to fix the vehicle when an apparently friendly truck driver, Red Barr (J.T. Walsh), stops by to offer help. Red tells the couple that there's a diner a few miles … More

R (violence, language)
Drama , Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
Jonathan Mostow , Sam Montgomery
In Theaters:
Dec 1, 1998
Paramount Pictures


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Critic Reviews for Breakdown

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (10) | DVD (4)

[Kurt Russell's] lack of energy afflicts the film as much as its director's lack of ideas.

Full Review… | May 7, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

A taut suspense film.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Breakdown has plenty of deft action sequences, and what they add up to is nifty garbage disposal, with all of us -- characters, filmmakers, viewers -- ultimately spiraling down the same drain.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Taut, skillful and surgically effective.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Although Breakdown certainly resembles a compacted version of George Sluizer's Americanized remake of his 1988 Dutch/French psychothriller, it actually owes a lot more to The Hitcher in terms of tone, atmosphere, and execution.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010 of the most effective and flat-out engrossing thrillers within recent cinematic history...

Full Review… | July 6, 2009
Reel Film Reviews

A first-rate nail-biter that packs more genuine white-knuckle moments into 100 minutes than a dozen overpriced volcano movies could ever dream of having.

March 3, 2006

A taut, well-crafted suspense film that delivers the paranoid goods.

October 28, 2005

An engrossing, exciting nailbiter that makes the most of every single one of its efficient 95 minutes.

Full Review… | October 3, 2005

Are we really supposed to empathize with the empathy-proof Kurt Russell? I was actually hoping that his character's wife had run away with the trucker ...

Full Review… | January 7, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A well-crafted thriller.

May 7, 2003
Jam! Movies

Pure free-fall fun.

May 7, 2003
Jam! Movies

It's a little silly and you do have to suspend your disbelief, but it's a thrilling ride.

Full Review… | March 16, 2003
Laramie Movie Scope

A spare, solid, sharply paced tale of terror that does what a thriller is supposed to do -- scare the bejesus out of you.

Full Review… | October 15, 2002
Cincinnati Enquirer

Nifty morality play about the invidious vices of envy and showing off.

Full Review… | August 26, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

A well-made B thriller.

July 25, 2002
Matinee Magazine

[Mostow is] able to sustain a nightmarish reality that is at once gripping and chilling.

Full Review… | June 5, 2002
Boxoffice Magazine

If you liked Hand That Rocks the Cradle, or Eye for An Eye, you are gonna like Breakdown.

Full Review… | April 17, 2002
Film Scouts

It's a cool flick, with a good story, and it's worth paying full price. And I never say that about Kurt Russell movies.

Full Review… | October 24, 2001

Some movies have such good set-ups, that they are virtually assured to be something of a let-down when it comes time for the follow-through. Jonathan Mostow's Breakdown is such a movie.

Full Review… | February 27, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

A fairly taut thriller that gets into gear by stealing parts from Duel, The Vanishing and Deliverance.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
E! Online

Audience Reviews for Breakdown

A plain old bad movie with a ridiculous plot and no logic. The first thirty minutes was sort've interesting, but after that it just takes a trip to crazy town. It just becomes the most ridiculous plot that has no base in reality. They tried to attempt blending abduction with action and it just didn't work.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

It?s been done before and since. It?s been done better, it?s been done worse. It?s ok.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


"Breakdown" is without a doubt one of the best action movies I've ever seen, and one of the more overlooked. It's about a married couple that get stranded after their car breaks down in the desert. A truck driver (J.T. Walsh), convincingly urges Kurt Russel that he will take his wife to a nearby phone so she can call for help. However, that's when Russel's wife gets kidnapped and this movie really starts to roll. Kurt Russel goes on an action packed adventure to try to find his wife and when he finally finds where she's at, the suspense gets more intense than just about any movie I've ever seen.

I don't see why "Breakdown" wasn't one of the biggest blockbuster hits of the 90's. Kurt Russel puts on one of his best performances ever and J.T. Walsh plays his role as the main villain as close to perfection as any other actor ever has. "Breakdown" has many of the best and most suspenseful action sequences you'll find in any movie. You wouldn't really know that the music stars aren't actors for a living cause they do a great job.

There's not many movies that I'll watch twice within a week, but "Breakdown" was so good I watched it 4 times the first week it premiered on cable. I also told all my friends and family how good it was and that they needed to watch it. I taped it the last time I saw it and it's still on my list of one of the best action movies of all time and it always will be. It is also one movie you will never forget. If you like action movies with great suspense and non-stop action, "Breakdown" is one movie you can't miss.

Jason Owens

Super Reviewer

One of those movies where the world is stacked against you, but you battle against the bad guys if it is the last thing you ever do. The movie keeps you interested til the very end, in fact at the end on the bridge, I was wondering if any one else would come along for Kurt Russell to battle with.

Red Lats

Super Reviewer

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