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All roads lead to excitement with Kurt Russell in Breakdown, the non-stop thrill ride that's "a movie of nerve-frying intensity...Kurt Russell's best performance yet" (Rex Reed, New York Observer). Jeff Taylor (Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) are headed toward a new life in California when their car's engine dies on a remote highway. Amy accepts a ride from a helpful trucker (J.T. Walsh) while Jeff waits with the car. But when Jeff shows up at the agreed rendezvous, he finds his wife's not there. The locals aren't talking; the police aren't much help. With no one to turn to, Jeff battles his worst fears and begins a desperate, danger-ridden search to find Amy - Before it's too late!
Tautly directed and superbly photographed, this crowd-pleasing thriller from 1997 is indebted to Steven Spielberg's Duel, but more closely resembles Dead Calm in its strengths and weaknesses. Kurt Russell plays a stressed-out husband whose wife (Kathleen Quinlan) disappears after their car breaks down in the desert. Tracking her whereabouts leads to an interstate theft and kidnapping ring, and as Russell pursues--and is pursued by--a vicious redneck played to perfection by J.T. Walsh (in one of his final film roles), the movie succumbs to several tense, but utterly conventional action sequences. That doesn't stop the movie from being an above-average nail-biter. It is so effectively directed by co-writer Jonathan Mostow that even the more surreal situations seem plausible and altogether unsettling. Russell's performance is key to the film's success--he's smart enough to be admirable, and we can readily identify with his frustration, confusion, and torment. Through him, Breakdown takes on the edgy quality of a wide-awake nightmare. --Jeff Shannon
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