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Critic's Pick

'Breakdown'

April 26, 1998|Jack Matthews

It's so simple, it ought to be banal. A couple (Kurt Russell, pictured, Kathleen Quinlan) on a cross-country drive from New England to Southern California are stranded with engine trouble on a desolate stretch of highway in the Southwest desert. A passing truck pulls over, and its friendly driver (the late J.T. Walsh) offers them a ride to a nearby diner where they can call for help. The husband stays with the car; the wife goes with the trucker. . . and vanishes. The rest of writer-director Jonathan Mostow's 1997 movie follows the confused and frantic husband's attempts to find his wife and rescue her from kidnappers. Mostow, with his first feature, has made such a convincing, fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat thriller that you'd swear you'd never seen anything quite like it (HBO Sunday at 10:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 11 p.m., and HBO2 Saturday at 12:30 p.m.).

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