Breakdown script
Breakdown (1997)
Synopsis: On their cross-country drive, a married couple, Jeff (Kurt Russell) and Amy Taylor (Kathleen Quinlan), experience car trouble after an accident. Stranded in the New Mexico desert, the two catch a break when a passing truck driver, Red Barr (J.T. Walsh), offers to drive Amy to a nearby café to call for help. Meanwhile, Jeff is able to fix the car and make his way to the café, only to find his wife missing and Barr claiming ignorance. Jeff then begins a frenzied search for Amy.

FADE IN:

EXTREMELY TIGHT ON ELECTRONIC GUTS

of a video camera. The screwdriver blade of a Swiss Army

knife ENTERS FRAME, methodically tightening a row of

screws.

PULL BACK to reveal:

EXT. BOMBARDED NEIGHBORHOOD (WAR-TORN COUNTRY) -DAY

On the backslope of a mound of rubble, a three-man TV

crew (field producer, reporter, and cameraman, all

wearing flak jackets) waits while the cameraman, JEFFREY

TAYLOR, works to repair his malfunctioning minicam.

Throughout this sequence, ROD, the reporter, types on a

laptop computer, oblivious to what is happening around

him.

HOWARD, the field producer, lies on his stomach, peering

cautiously over the crest of the rubble through

binoculars.

Beyond him we see an empty street. It is lined with

buildings blasted by shells: a sawtooth wall in the

f.g., a ruined high-rise at the end of the street,

billboards in an unrecognizable foreign language.

HOWARD:

How about it, Jeff?

Jeff finishes his repair job, snaps the minicam closed.

JEFF:

Done.

Jeff slips the knife back in his pocket, scrambles over

the loose bricks and stones to a position next to Howard.

EXT. SAWTOOTH WALL -DAY

A frightened woman lurks nervously in the shelter of the

wall. She is young, in her early twenties, with shining

dark hair down to her shoulders. She’s carrying an

armload of books.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE -DAY

Jeff focuses the minicam.

2.

MINICAM POV:

FRAMED in the viewfinder we see the frightened woman.

HOWARD (O.S.)

Nice legs.

Jeff ignores Howard, PANS the minicam DOWN the street.

In the viewfinder we see the flash of sun on metal.

EXT. RUINED HIGH-RISE -DAY

A row of blasted windows. In one of the windows, a

sniper crouches. Sunlight glitters on his rifle barrel.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE

JEFF:

(matter-of-fact)

Sniper.

HOWARD:

Where?

JEFF:

High-rise. Top floor. Window in

the middle.

HOWARD:

(looking through

his binoculars)

Stay on him. Stay on him. Now go

back to the woman. Now!

Jeff swings the minicam and -

EXT. SAWTOOTH WALL -MINICAM POV

--the image blurs, then holds steady on the frightened

woman. Nervously, she peeks around the corner.

HOWARD (O.S.)

Back to the sniper.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE

HOWARD:

Stay tight on the sniper.

Jesus --look at him! He’s about

fourteen! Don’t lose this!

Jeff kneels on the ridge, minicam on his shoulder.

3.

EXT. RUINED HIGH-RISE -POV THROUGH VIEWFINDER

Jeff’s minicam ZOOMS IN ON the sniper. The sniper sees

the woman peeking and gets his rifle in firing position.

JEFF:

He sees her.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE

HOWARD:

Stay on her. If she runs, widen

and try to get her and sniper in

the same frame.

Jeff turns his head away from the camera and stares at

Howard.

JEFF:

I said he sees her.

HOWARD:

I heard you. Stay on her.

Jeff looks to Rod for support but he’s busy typing,

oblivious.

Jeff hesitates, then lifts the minicam to his eye again.

EXT. RUINED HIGH-RISE

The sniper, taking aim.

EXT. SAWTOOTH WALL

The frightened woman decides to make a dash for it. She

takes off her high-heeled shoes, inhales deeply,

gathering herself to run.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE

Jeff watches through his viewfinder:

JEFF:

(under his breath)

No... no...

EXT. STREET

The frightened woman bolts, sprinting barefoot across the

cobblestones, skirt lifted, slender legs flashing.

4.

EXT. MOUND OF RUBBLE

Jeff jumps to his feet, waves the minicam, shouting:

JEFF:

Sniper! Sniper! Sni-

STREET:

The woman looks up in Jeff’s direction, confused,

breaking stride -

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Jonathan Mostow

Jonathan Mostow (born November 28, 1961) is an American film and television director, writer and producer. more…

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