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  Breakout Tonight There's Gonna Be A Jailbreak Somewhere In This TownBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Tom Gries
Stars: Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Jill Ireland, Randy Quaid, Sheree North, Jorge Moreno, Emilio Fernández, Paul Mantee, Alan Vint, Alejandro Rey, William B. White, Roy Jenson, Sidney Clute, Chalo González, Antonio Tarruella, John Huston
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: American businessman Jay Wagner (Robert Duvall) is in Santiago with his wife when he is arrested by the Mexican police and before he can protest he is languishing in a Mexican jail. Little does he know, but his deals have landed him in trouble, and his rich grandfather (John Huston) has set him up on a trumped up murder charge to get him out of the way for about thirty years. However, Wagner Sr and his shadowy cronies reckon without the efforts of Mrs Wagner, Ann (Jill Ireland) who enlists a pilot, Nick Colton (Charles Bronson) near the border, to help out...

A lot of Bronson's films, the star vehicles he made his own with during the seventies and eighties, brought new meaning to the word "routine", and Breakout - not to be confused with the same year's Breakheart Pass - was no exception. It was based on true events, but just vague enough not to bring in any lawsuits, and besides the audience for this were not watching it for politics or conspiracy theories, they were looking for action and adventure, confident that Chuck was the man to bring it to them.

That confidence was not misplaced, and as a bonus Bronson gets to play it a lot more humorously than his stony-featured reputation might lead you to believe. In fact there's a refreshing looseness to the style here that recalls a perfectly diverting episode of a television series, sort of the mood of The Rockford Files crossed with The A-Team, although Bronson does not fire a shot in Breakout (he gets shot AT a lot, mind you). Initially, director Tom Gries and his writers play this with their cards close to their chest, but what we really want to know is how the prison break will happen.

Still, you'll have to wait for the film's big secret to be uncovered. In the meantime, Ann and Nick haggle over how much it will take to reward him for springing her hubby, and a first attempt ends in failure as Nick didn't realise he was picking up Jay from a prison in his light aircraft, and does not appreciate being shot at. This calls for a better plan, and he is the man to go to as he ropes in his assistant Hawkins (Randy Quaid - you get the feeling the cast were overqualified for this kind of thing) and the wife of the local sheriff Myrna (Sheree North).

I wonder if there has ever been a film where Mexicans cross the border to free one of their countrymen from an American jail? It would only be fair, after all, considering it happens in this and elsewhere in U.S. movies. As things stand here, the Mexicans are not exactly portrayed with affection, as actually there is but one of them who is nice to Jay, and even he becomes a liability when the plan goes into effect - including a near-riot that may as well be Night of the Living Mexicans seeing how they are depicted. Also notable is the death of a bad guy under the blades of a propeller, a pretty alarming way to conclude the story as the rest of it is fairly bloodless, but overall this is typical Bronson fare, his lack of weaponry notwithstanding. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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