Breakdown might be the best suspense thriller I’ve ever seen. This film might also be one of the best films I’ve ever seen period. This is an example of a film that had actual care attached to it. I’ve seen a lot of films like this but few have made me feel the way this one did. The cast is magnificent, the suspense is unrelenting right up until the end, and the writing lays things out in a way that keeps us on the edge of our seat. This is the best of what Hollywood has to offer.
The film opens with Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan, a married couple, driving cross country to their new home in San Diego. Right from the get go I had a good feeling about the film I was getting ready to see simply because Russel and Quinlan are so good in their roles. Even from just the first scene, I liked their characters and I bought that they were a couple, they have great chemistry. Not much time passes before their car breaks down and they’re left on the side of the road in need of help. Help is what they get, but it turns out to be everything but what they had intended. Quinlan’s character ends up going missing leaving us with Russell for the majority of the film, which I was more than ok with. Russell is one of the best actors to grace the silver screen and one of my very favorites. He has this searing intensity that’s ever believable here given the circumstances his character is in. He approaches his role with a lovability and a great sense of strength. You almost immediately like him just because let’s face it… Kurt Russell is so naturally lovable. It’s such an important detail that we love these main characters, Russell in particular
Yes, of course any rational human being with a heart would sympathize and root for these people given the danger they’re put in, but it’s something different to really like them. Being able to like them adds another layer, it connects you with them and makes the thrill ride that much more intense. I also described Russell as being strong and that he is, his character is a force to be reckoned with and has some serious tenacity. He’s everything you could want in a film’s heroine and more. I also want to praise J.T. Walsh for a great performance as the main supporting character, he was a very good fit for his role.
The writing is masterful, giving enough time for each chapter and keeping us entertained the whole way. I really respect a film for being tight and efficient and not wandering around aimlessly. The plot is treated with care and things move along at an appropriate pace. While yes the beginning and middle are well done, the ending is really quite exceptional. There were many times along the way where I found myself staring at the screen in suspense and sometimes talking to the characters. The level of intensity this film is able to muster is very impressive.
Speaking of intensity, let’s talk about these action sequences! I’m not a huge action lover to be honest, but I do love an exciting well choreographed action sequence and damn does Breakdown have some great ones. There are several very well done car chase scenes and I’ve seen quite a bit of scenes like this, but these just felt superior. The ending has two really fantastic action sequences that should be named when talking about the most well done action scenes, just extremely effective. I can’t give away the thing that happens in the very last moment of the film, but suffice to say that Quinlan’s character does something that is just so incredibly badass, I just watched with a smile. Badass is a good way to describe this entire film actually, but a smart well done kind of badass. In a genre where things can get numbingly unoriginal and have rigid characters, I so appreciate a film like Breakdown.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you see Breakdown. This is one of the smartest, most exciting films I’ve seen so grab a bowl of popcorn and settle in for a wild ride!