Filled with tension and suspense, the fan-favorite thriller Breakdown arrives on Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents Line from Paramount Home Entertainment. Check out Ralph Potts’ review below.

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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Paramount - 1997
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 93 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Isolated Stereo Track
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan, J.T. Walsh, Rex Linn
Directed by: Jonathan Mostow
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Written by: Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 21, 2021

"It Could Happen to You"


Filled with tension and suspense, the fan-favorite thriller Breakdown arrives on Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents Line from Paramount Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Kurt Russell is Jeff Taylor, headed toward a new life in California with his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan). When their car dies on a remote highway, a seemingly helpful trucker (J.T. Walsh) offers Amy a ride to the local diner while Jeff waits with the car. Then Jeff discovers his vehicle was deliberately tampered with, and by the time he gets to the next town, his worst fears are about to come true.

I recall seeing Breakdown on cable television back in the late nineties and being a fan. It’s story is about as straight forward as it comes, beginning with a simple setup before jumping right into the plight of its couple, focusing more so on a man standing the middle of the room screaming at the top of his lungs and not being heard by anyone. Forced to take matters into his own hands, his refusal to accept the insurmountable odds against him is at the heart of what makes Breakdown fun to watch.

I am most definitely a Kurt Russell fan. I find his everyman charisma and likeability onscreen to be his strengths, in addition to his decent acting chops. Kathleen Quinlan was and remains among my Hollywood actress “crushes”. I will watch anything that she’s in. Here she doesn’t have much screen time but, I still enjoyed her chemistry with Russell. Lastly, the late and, always dependable J.T. Walsh. Gone too soon, he is at his best in the role of villain. I miss him.

Breakdown in an underrated thriller that effectively employs a few standard tricks that draw you into its story by building up a good head of steam (suspense included) early and, not letting go until it culminates in the outcome that can only go one way. I have seen it in years but, enjoyed it every bit as much now as then. I am thrilled that it was chosen by Paramount for release in the Paramount Presents Line.

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Featuring a director-approved remaster from a new 4K film scan, Breakdown is presented in a limited-edition Blu-ray Disc with collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. The Blu-ray boasts a wealth of new bonus content, including a look at the never-before-seen alternate opening, a new Filmmaker Focus with director Jonathan Mostow, commentary by Mostow and star Kurt Russell, a featurette with actress Kathleen Quinlan, an isolated track of Basil Poledouris’s score, access to a Digital copy of the film, and more.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong violence/terror and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Breakdown comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound.

According to the press documentation I received, Breakdown was fully remastered in 4K and presented in 1080p for this Paramount Presents edition release.

This is my first experience with this film on home video. Colors are vividly reproduced with subtle tonal variation and clean rendering. The range of colors is not particularly extensive but, the earth tones which are its primary source look great. Facial textures and complexions are nicely delineated with warmth and lifelike tonality. Images are well detailed over the course of the film. This isn’t going to exhibit the type of razor-sharp high gloss definition that we see from digitally sourced films however, the level of detail is complimentary. There are minor fluctuations in sharpness and detail that appear related to the original photography. Film grain is intact, and appears well preserved throughout the presentation. Blacks are stable with consistent contrast levels that draw out plenty of visible detail during light and dark segments. I found little to complain about and thoroughly enjoyed this high-definition rendering.

Presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 this is the first lossless audio treatment this excellent soundtrack has seen on home video and the results are quite good indeed. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with refining clarity and excellent room penetration. This presentation makes good use of the entire system to deliver a seamlessly integrated audio experience that is highlighted by solid impact, definitive detail, and Basil Poledouris’ music score. Dynamic range is quite good and doesn’t seem limited by the dated elements present in the recording. Sounds and effects have copious expression that extend well into the room LOVE the scene when the train travels right to left onscreen and literally comes through the room!).

Surround activity isn’t constant but, when applied can be engaging as discernible spatial ambience and discrete sounds fill the listening area. The LFE channel is similarly used to add weight that extends low bass frequencies. The chase scene in the finale sounds terrific. The soundtrack runs the gamut and contains a variety of sounds/effects. Each is presented with discerning audible presence via a well-integrated surround mix that comes to life where appropriate. This track should be listened to at or near reference. You won’t be disappointed!

Bonus Features:

  • • Commentary by director Jonathan Mostow and Kurt Russell—NEW!
    • Filmmaker Focus: Director Jonathan Mostow on Breakdown—NEW!
    • Victory Is Hers - Kathleen Quinlan on Breakdown—NEW!
    • A Brilliant Partnership - Martha De Laurentiis on Breakdown—NEW!
    • Alternate Opening—NEW!
    • Alternate Opening with commentary by director Jonathan Mostow—NEW!
    • Isolated Score—NEW!
    • Theatrical Trailers
    o Breakdown
    o Kiss the Girls
    o Hard Rain

Final Thoughts:

Breakdown comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment’s Paramount Presents line featuring beautifully restored video, excellent lossless sound and new supplements that are worth exploring. Breakdown is a film that is rarely discussed among memorable genre entries but, it’s one that I have always enjoyed and highly recommend. Give it a shot!

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems