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Charles Bronson cranked out a lot of simple, enjoyable thrillers in the seventies, with 1975’s BREAKOUT providing some decent, if dated action, laughs and suspense.

Bronson is dusty Texas pilot Nick Colton. He and his sidekick Hawkins (an impossibly young Randy Quaid many years before Cousin Eddie) make a few bucks where they can, but his business and airplanes are at best second-rate.

Colton is approached by Ann Wagner (Jill Ireland, Bronson’s real-life wife) whose husband Jay has been falsely accused, convicted and thrown in a Mexican jail. Jay is played by Robert Duvall in his first film after “The Godfather Part II”. He’s not the only heavyweight aboard. John Huston (Chinatown) is Harris Wagner, behind the scheme to keep Jay in the prison.

Bronson is effortlessly tough, funny and enjoyable in the role. He always looks like he’s either just beat the tar out of someone or fallen off a bar stool with his buddies. He makes it look easy.

Watching a mid-70’s film and its sense of humor is sometimes jarring some 45 years later. Quaid cross dressing to sneak in the jail and nearly getting beaten to death isn’t funny, nor are Sheree North’s rape jokes, but you can’t hold every film to today’s sensibilities.

The first half-hour is pretty slow, taking forever to get rolling, but the last half-hour detailing the escape attempt and its aftermath is non-stop action, suspenseful and gritty in that very enjoyable, seventies B-Movie rough & tumble way.

A final confrontation on a runway features the most graphic human interaction with a propeller since George Romero’s “Day of the Dead”. It’s hard to believe this was rated PG!

BREAKOUT doesn’t break out of any genre stereotypes, but it’s an enjoyable throwback action flick for a rainy day. I’ll give it a C+.

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