Breakdown | Chicago Reader

Breakdown

Kathleen Quinlan is kidnapped in the southwest, and Kurt Russell, playing her yuppie husband, maniacally pursues the abductors. Jonathan Mostow directed this 1997 feature from his own script (written with Sam Montgomery), and J.T. Walsh costars. At first this comes across as an atmospheric and efficient thriller that might have been a B film back in the 40s or 50s, and it's certainly well crafted in terms of individual sequences. But plot and character—initially spurred by class resentment—become less and less interesting or even relevant as stunts and action crowd them out. In the end the mean-spiritedness of today's generic action picture—in which most people are viewed as scumbags and the only kind of conflict worth following is the grudge match—reigns supreme, and story logic counts for nothing. If you harbor homicidal fantasies you might get a chuckle or two out of this; otherwise it might just make you sick.

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