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Breaking In – Movie Review

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Breaking In – Movie Review

Rating: D (Very Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Gabrielle Union is a talented actress who is able to get a good performance out of even shoddy material. Breaking In is proof of that as this is a dull, unexciting thriller which telegraphs its plot threads and loses steam fairly quickly. Yet Union is the best part of the film and is clearly giving her all in the role of a mother attempting to save her children from criminals. Watching her in this movie, one wishes somebody would give her an amazing script with a meaty role, as opposed to a project that will make its money back on a Friday night and then be quickly forgotten.

There are multiple points in Breaking In where the brain starts a countdown before the inevitable happens. There is building suspense and then there is holding the audience’s hand. This movie always encounters a cliché it wants to exploit and that the main villains are hardly intelligent criminal masterminds only lessens the intensity of what’s happening. Their main motivation, merely to steal money from a safe, is standard and it makes one wonder why the film doesn’t conclude twenty minutes after it starts. Everyone makes baffling decisions at every turn and it doesn’t properly feel like the central leads are in danger. Any attempt at suspense falls short and that Breaking In has no visual flair adds to its dullness.

There are frequent attempts to shock the audience, but they hardly register and will only be a surprise to those who haven’t watched that many movies in their lifetime. The two children are barely written and aren’t given any personality, which forces Union to do much of the emotional heavy lifting. Yet even the lines meant to draw the biggest applause and cheers feel like they’ve been recycled from rejected Die Hard drafts. Despite its short 88 minute runtime, the plot loses steam fairly quickly. Once the movie reaches the hour mark, it gets even more repetitive and boring and becomes a patient wait for the end credits.

Gabrielle Union does handle the physical requirements exceptionally well and a reel of her scenes in Breaking In would make for a strong audition tape for an action picture or superhero movie. The petty criminals squabbling does not make for interesting drama and each fit into that familiar archetype: the unflinching leader, the youngest guy with reservations and the tough brute obsessed with killing. They are not fleshed out beyond that and are given one generic line after another. The third aforementioned criminal is also overacted to the extreme. When Union inevitably beats another of the criminals early on, he is easily forgotten.

Breaking In could have made for a fun, mindless B-movie, but the story is so threadbare and clichéd, it’s difficult to get invested in the proceedings. Gabrielle Union is the only saving grace and she is desperately trying her best to elevate what little she’s given. She has been slowly building a few producing credits these past few years, including on this film, and one can see why her heart was in this project. It’s unfortunate the direction and screenplay betray her. Breaking In offers no surprises or thrills to be had and it’s a wonder, outside of contractual obligation, this is being given a wide release by a major studio.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison