Breakdown (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Breakdown (1997)



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

Movie Info

An automobile breakdown in a lonely stretch of Southwestern desert becomes the starting point for a terrifying, torturous journey when Jeff Taylor's beautiful wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) accepts a ride to a local truck stop to call for a tow truck and suddenly vanishes without a trace. Just before the car broke down, the couple had been threatened by a greasy looking local in a black pick-up truck. Fortunately trucker Red Barr (J.T. Walsh) rolls up just in time and gives Amy a lift to the restaurant while Jeff (Kurt Russell) remains behind to tinker with the car. He learns of his wife's disappearance after he fixes the Cherokee himself. Though all the patrons at the roadside cafe where he was supposed to meet Amy swear they never saw her, Jeff is suspicious. He eventually finds and corners Red who also swears he never saw Amy. By this time the outraged Jeff is about ready to blow a gasket when a cop shows up and suggests that Jeff file a missing person's report. It is at the station that Jeff learns that his wife's is only one of many disappearances. Unlike many 1990s, thrillers, Breakdown tells the tale of an ordinary man who copes courageously with his extraordinary situation without turning into a gun-toting super macho action hero. Instead it prefers to build up suspense on a more low-key level as Jeff desperately fights to learn the truth.more
Rating: R (violence, language)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 1, 1998
Paramount Pictures


Kurt Russell
as Jeff Taylor
J.T. Walsh
as Red Barr
Kathleen Quinlan
as Amy Taylor
Rex Linn
as Sheriff Boyd
Kim Robillard
as Deputy Len Carver
Jack McGee
as Bartender
Ancel Cook
as Barfly
Gene Hartline
as Tow Truck Driver
Steve Waddinton
as Cowboy in Bank
Rick Sanders
as Truck Stop Trucker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Breakdown

Critic Reviews for Breakdown

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (18)

[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

Pretty good.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Breakdown gets the job done.

January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
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
Georgia Straight

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


"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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