Never mind the B-movie premise, Breakdown is a real jolt of tension, involving the viewer from the start and providing satisfying twists through the end. Feeding off the viewer's secret fears of being stranded in a foreign, hostile environment, Breakdown utilizes a clean, lean script to depict the deterioration of Kurt Russell's henpecked mind. Anyone who's had a normal day unravel into a crisis will sympathize with Russell as he begins to recognize that his wife (Kathleen Quinlan) has vanished, and everyone who might help him lacks either the knowledge or the willingness to do so. Russell brilliantly harnesses the impotent anger that accompanies such a situation, especially when the great character actor J.T. Walsh stares him down and effortlessly shrugs off suspicion in front of a state trooper. Left to his own impulses -- those of a city type hopelessly out of his league -- Russell kicks off a wild, make-it-up-as-you-go strategy to locate his wife. His path, fueled by sweat and desperation, is always believable. Jonathan Mostow has crafted a solid thriller with minimum flash, all the more appreciable for its self-awareness and eagerness to work within human scale. By the time Mostow stages the showy climax, his prior restraint has earned him the right, and the armrest gripping is well deserved.