BreakdownMay 2, 1997
A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.
Release Year: 1997
Rating: 6.8/10 (21,170 voted)
Critic's Score: 73/100
Stars: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan
Jeff and Amy Taylor are moving to California and must drive across the country. When they find themselves stranded in the middle of a desert with hardly anyone or anything around, their trip comes to a sudden halt. Amy had taken a ride with a friendly trucker to a small diner to call for help, but after a long time, Jeff becomes worried. He finds that no one in the diner has seen or heard from his wife. When he finds the trucker who gave Amy the ride, the trucker swears he has never seen her. Now Jeff must attempt to find his wife, who has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. But who can he trust?
Writers: Jonathan Mostow, Jonathan Mostow
Jeffrey 'Jeff' Taylor
Warren 'Red' Barr
(as Moira Harris)
Deputy Len Carver
Bartender at Belle's Diner
Barfly at Belle's Diner
Tow Truck Driver
A cross-country trip. An unexpected breakdown. The trap has been set.
Release Date: 2 May 1997
Filming Locations: American River, Sacramento, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $12,307,128
(4 May 1997)
(17 August 1997)
Did You Know?
The road outlay in the opening credits sequence is from a map of north central New Mexico. However, the road names have been changed and the landmarks and town names have been changed or new fictitious ones added.
Crew or equipment visible:
When Kurt Russell slams his brakes on after being blocked in by the F150 pickup at the construction site, the cameraman is clearly visible in the rearview mirror, as he's sitting directly behind him.
You're a tough man to get a hold of, Jeffery.
What do you want?
It's not what I want, it's what you want, and how bad you want it. 'Cause it's gonna cost you. Can't show it to you right now, but it's about 5'5", 115 pounds, three or four of that just pure tit. Nice curly brown hair, upstairs and down. Interested?
A good movie, and not a bad one: here's why
Within the first few minutes, I could tell this movie was a good one.
Why? Because the characters choose appropriate actions based on their
motives. Here's a few examples:
When Kurt Russell confronts the guy in the truck at the gas station in
the very beginning, and his wife asks him what who he was, in a bad
movie he would have said no one. Here he explains that it was the same
guy from before, which makes sense.
It doesn't make sense at first when Russell refuses the ride from the
trucker, but it is subtly revealed that he doesn't want to leave his
car alone. This leads to his wife going off alone, but only after she
forces the issue. Russell's motivations here make perfect sense for his
After Russell tapes up the bad guy and is pulled over by the cop, in a
bad movie he would have put his gun in the cop's face and tied him up
too. Instead, he surrendered and asked for help, just like a reasonable
When Russell latches onto the back of JT Walsh's truck, there's a
dramatic sequence where he clings to the bottom of the truck as he
makes his way to the front. In a bad movie, this would have led to him
climbing into the cab, wresting control of the truck and forcing Walsh
to reveal the location of his wife. Instead, he was taking the sensible
and important step of getting to a safe and comfortable place to spend
the hours-long ride.
Throughout the movie, Russell tries to call for help. In most movies
like this, if an attempt is even made to actually use the police, they
are invariably disdainful of strangers, in on it, or both. In the brief
period where Russell thinks the cops are in on it, he tries to reach an
FBI agent. Apart from the period immediately after the cop got shot, he
constantly tries to get police help, just like a thinking human being
These and many other small things are examples of the screenwriters
giving characters reasonable motives in unreasonable situations and
allowing the action to unfold. In too many action movies the main
character forces the plot with completely irrational behavior. The main
character here reacts to the plot evenly with the audience, and it
makes him a much more sympathetic hero than the typical action movie.