Breakout (1975)

Breakout (1975)
 
 

Bronson and the Bonkers Escape

Charles Bronson in Breakout (1975)

"Breakout" is one of those movies which technically isn't very good but it's still entertaining thanks to plenty of daftness. Ironically the daftness is part of the reason why "Breakout" isn't very good because it jars with the serious side making it a very mixed up, unfocussed movie. Add to that some things are dated and now politically incorrect such as the portrayal of Mexicans and a series of jokes about rape but it makes "Breakout" borders on curiously entertaining.

Jay Wagner (Robert Duvall - The Godfather: Part II) finds himself sentenced to 28 years in a Mexican prison for a murder he never committed, all thanks to his Grandfather Harris (John Huston) who has him set up. Desperate to get her husband out before prison destroys him, Amy Wagner (Jill Ireland - Carry on Nurse) pays pilot Nick Colton (Charles Bonson - The Dirty Dozen) to help rescue him which after a few misguided attempts decides to chopper in to the prison and lift Jack out despite never having flown a chopper before. But Nick becomes suspicious as he is sure someone is feeding someone information to stop him from getting Jay out.

Jill Ireland and Robert Duvall in Breakout (1975)

It is worth mentioning that "Breakout" is inspired by a true story but I say inspired rather than based because rather than being about why Jay ended up in a Mexican prison the focus is on the entertainment of Nick getting him out. This brings with it some very notable problems such as why Jay's grandfather is setting him up, we never find out but are aware of a shady government official who seems to be pulling strings. It means that this side of the movie is played out seriously but is weak because of so many gaps in the narrative and is also weak because unfortunately Jill Ireland doesn't convince as a woman desperate to get her husband out.

But then as I said it seems to me that "Breakout" is more about the amusement of Nick, his laid back wheeler dealing charm and daft plans. One of those plans sees his buddy Hawk, played by Randy Quaid, in drag trying to get in to prison to see Jay. It also lays way for some action, crazy stunts involving a helicopter as well as a spectacularly gruesome death scene involving a plane's propeller. Plus whilst Jill Ireland doesn't convince as a desperate wife it does allow for some sizzle when it comes to how Nick feels about her which adds to the entertainment.

Now I said that "Breakout" despite its problems is entertaining in truth most of that comes down to Charles Bronson who is fun as Nick giving him a sense of mischief which just makes you smile. He also sells the daftness of the plans thanks to the laid back styling which works so well especially with Randy Quaid as a sort of comedy side kick and Sheree North adding to the general comedy. But then in contrast you have Robert Duvall as Jay and he plays it completely straight, trying to deliver a convincing character of a man who changes in prison, becoming paranoid and ill.

What this all boils down to is that "Breakout" is a flawed movie which has a storyline which is missing critical elements and an inconsistent tone. Yet despite that it is still entertaining with Charles Bronson's laid back characterisation being the main reason why it amuses.

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