Directed By: Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Kurt Russell, J.T Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, M.C Gainey
Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
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Breakdown (1997) is a movie that seems to be a fan favorite from the mid-to-late '90s but one I had never seen until now. I also can't help but love Kurt Russell and bonus points for a movie with some nice wordplay. Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) 'breakdown' on the side of the road. When Amy goes off to find help, and Jeff stays with the truck she never returns. What ensues is a twists and turns thriller as Jeff searches for his missing wife.
When researching for this review it seems that director Jonathan Mostow only notable pop-culture contribution to cinema was helm the dreadful Terminator 3 (2003) and, after that his work has been nothing that noteworthy. He seems to be a gun-for-hire working in different genres. But after seeing Breakdown it makes me bummed he didn't do more thrillers. Breakdown is a lean, mean little suspense outing that reminded me of Road Games (1981) meets The Lady Vanishes (1938). Indeed, it has a lot of Hitchcock in its themes and style. The overall film is incredibly paced with almost no filler, and everything is working to thrust the plot forward. DP Douglas Milsome (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) gives Breakdown a polished look with interesting camera angles and further give this movie presence.
And, damned if you don't love a movie with Kurt Russell being a total badass. Russell has a charm that seems so perfect for the screen it almost feels lab-grown. His roguishly good looks and star power makes him a lot of fun to watch, especially when given material like this. J.T Walsh is a pretty chilling bad guy without ever over playing things. I also like how his character is showed having a wife and child, highlighting how seemingly "family men" can blend in. Character actors M.C Gainey and Jack Noseworthy are excellent as always. Kathleen Quinlan is good with what's a pretty thankless role.
Breakdown is a '90s thriller that seems to have earned a cult status especially with a re-release from Imprint and now Paramount. If you, like me have slept on this movie, don't. It's not perfect but its a well oiled little thriller that delivers the goods.
Picture: Paramount has been really crushing it with their back catalogue releases. Breakdown is presented in a stunning 4k transfer which was approved by director Jonathan Mostow. For fans of this film I cant imagine this ever looking this good. The movie has an overall clean, crisp look, especially with outdoor locales. Colors are also incredibly well balanced are has an good contrast. Paramount transfers also never look overly processed and, I can see why the director was pleased with this presentation. Grain is present but looks well managed as well. Darker lit scenes also highlight just how refreshed this new transfer is.
Sound: Paramount also springs for a nice Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. This is a action thriller so your going to want a big bombastic sound presentation and this re-release does deliver the goods. The spacing for sound I thought was well done and it overall had a robust presence highlighted the more intense scenes, especially the films pulse pounding finale.
Extras: Breakdown has a ton of new extras!
Filmmaker Focus: A New Interview with Director Jonathan Mostow
Commentary by Jonathan Mostow and Kurt Russell
Victory is Hers: Kathleen Quinlan on Breakdown
A Brilliant Partnership - Martha De Laurentiis on Breakdown
Alternate Opening With Commentary By Director Jonathan Mostow