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Jonathan Mostow
Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan, JT Walsh
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery

A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.

Box Office:
$36 million.
Opening Weekend
$12,307,128 on 2108 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.


Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 9/21/21

• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Jonathan Mostow and Actor Kurt Russell
• Isolated Score
• “Victory Is Hers” Featurette
• “A Brilliant Partnership” Featurette
• “Filmmaker Focus” Featurette
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Breakdown (Paramount Presents Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 26, 2021)

Most of us deal with car trouble from time to time. For a dark vision of what could go wrong in these circumstances, we head to 1997’s Breakdown.

Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) take a road trip from Massachusetts toward their new home in California. As they traverse a dark desert highway, their vehicle craps out in the middle of nowhere.

Happily, trucker Red Barr (JT Walsh) comes along and offers to drive Amy into town while Jeff waits with the Jeep. Though Jeff expects to see a tow truck in short order, he waits for hours.

Eventually Jeff fixes the problem on his own and finds his way into town, where he finds no trace of Amy – and when he meets Red, the trucker claims he never met Jeff or Amy. With his wife’s whereabouts unknown, Jeff embarks on a perilous journey.

The term gets overused, but I think it makes sense to refer to Breakdown as “Hitchcockian”. Like much of the legendary director’s work, the 1997 film focuses on an ordinary man pushed to the brink in extraordinary circumstances. Hitch probably wouldn’t have given Breakdown the kind of action orientation we find here, though. Not that the movie comes packed with visceral thrills, but it delivers a more aggressive impression that we would usually get from Hitchcock.

Of course, director Jonathan Mostow is no Hitchcock. Mostow made his directorial debut back in 1989 with Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers and proceeded to make only 5 more features since then, with 2017’s Hunter’s Prayer as his last effort to date.

Mostow never rose above the level of “pretty decent” as a director. His two best-known flicks – 2000’s U-571 and 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines both became enjoyable but not great films, and Breakdown follows the same path.

Honestly, I can find it tough to locate anything that goes particularly wrong in Breakdown. This turns into a solid, professional effort from start to finish.

Mostow manages to imbue Breakdown with just enough suspense and action to keep us engaged. Again, nothing goes awry here, as the movie creates a reasonably engaging drama.

However, Breakdown never rises above that level either. Much of the film can feel a little “by the numbers”, as Mostow’s inability to bring us anything particularly original or creative lends the film a semi-generic feel at times.

Breakdown does enjoy a nice cast. No one here elevates the material, but they give the often ludicrous action a sense of grounding that helps it.

Ultimately, Breakdown winds up as a more than watchable 93 minutes of suspense. It doesn’t deliver an experience that innovates or adds anything special to the genre, but it manages to become a perfectly enjoyable thriller.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Breakdown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, the image looked good.

For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Occasionally I saw some mildly soft images – mainly during interiors - but those didn’t occur with any frequency, so most of the movie looked concise and well-defined.

No jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws also remained absent.

When we considered the arid setting of most of the movie, it didn’t lend itself to a dynamic palette, and dusty amber tones dominated the tale. Some blues materialized as well, usually via clothes. These appeared well-rendered and appropriately full. P> As for blacks, these seemed pretty deep and firm, while the occasional low-light shots looked clean and smooth. I felt happy with the quality of the picture.

Given the nature of the story, it shouldn’t surprise that the movie’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 focused on vehicle-related material. Since most of the story took place on the highway, this allowed the tale to deliver a fair amount of action, with cars, trucks and related elements that moved around the room in a largely concise, immersive manner.

Audio quality also worked well, with natural, clear speech and vivid music. The score seemed rich and dynamic.

Effects packed a nice punch, as those elements appeared accurate and full, with deep, resonant low-end. This became an appropriate mix for this kind of thriller.

As we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from co-writer/director Jonathan Mostow and actor Kurt Russell. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, inspirations and influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, music, editing, and related domains.

Overall, this becomes a fairly satisfying track. Mostow and Russell show a nice interaction and they deliver a mix of good insights. Occasionally the commentary leans too heavy toward happy talk, but this usually remains an engaging chat.

Also alongside the movie, we can watch with an isolated score. This comes as a lossless option, as the music boasts Dolby TrueHD stereo audio. We almost always get lossy isolated scores, so this comes as a pleasant surprise.

Some featurettes follow, and Victory Is Hers runs four minutes, 22 seconds and includes notes from actor Kathleen Quinlan. She talks about working with Russell and other aspects of her experiences on Breakdown. Though brief, this becomes an engaging chat.

A Brilliant Partnership lasts eight minutes, 18 seconds and features producer Martha De Laurentiis as she discusses the project’s development and bringing Mostow onto the production, casting and the movie’s release. Expect another useful overview.

New to the Blu-ray, Filmmaker Focus goes for 10 minutes, 46 seconds and offers more info from Mostow. He looks at the project’s origins, cast and performances, stunts, action and editing, and the film’s reception. Some of the material repeats from the commentary, but Mostow offers a mix of good new notes.

We also find an Altermate Opening. Including a two-minute, 38-second intro from Mostow, it spans 11 minutes, 40 seconds and shows additional backstory about the two leads. This all feels disconnected from the main story, so I suspect this footage would’ve been out of place in the final cut.

We can view the “Alternate Opening” with or without commentary from Mostow. He gives us info about the material and why he left it out of the final film. Actually, the intro covers the fact that the producers forced him to shoot this “Opening”, but the commentary adds a few good notes about related elements.

The disc also provides trailers. We get promos for Breakdown as well as Kiss the Girls and Hard Rain.

As far as thrillers go, Breakdown feels middle of the pack. While it provides a pretty good genre entry, it never threatens to become truly memorable. The Blu-ray boasts appealing picture and audio as well as an assortment of bonus materials. This becomes a quality release for a moderately engaging tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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