Breaking In

Breaking In
Breaking In
Starring Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden and Seth Carr
Directed by James McTeigue
In UK Cinemas May 11th, 2018

by Gemsy

Mum’s family weekend away to prepare a deceased family member’s house for selling turns rather eventful. A mildly incompetent posse of bad guys – comprising generic ‘brains’, ‘psycho’, ‘good-guy-underneath-it-all-maybe’ and token ‘no-one cares, including his own people’ – have inside knowledge that inside the house $4 million dollars in cash is inside a safe somewhere. Inside. So, they lock the mum outside and take her kids hostage. And the whole plot of Breaking In unfolds in an entertaining, but rather formulaic and predictable fashion.

The good bits: Gabrielle Union is absolutely fantastic as the protagonist kick-butt mum. With a lacking script, she still manages to bring depth to what could have been an extremely one-dimensional and lacklustre character. There are also some brilliantly constructed fight scenes and a number of daredevil stunts to put John McClane to shame.

Now the rest.

Despite the potential and while being a reasonably fun and enjoyable experience, Breaking In fails to deliver the truly gripping, suspense-filled tale we’ve come to expect from the home invasion genre. The depiction of the children’s true panic at being completely at the mercy of brutal killers is never realised convincingly. This could, in fairness, be put down to the seemingly lackadaisical approach by said criminals to their situation: with a limited timeframe in which to commit their crime, it isn’t often that the unimpressive bunch actually stop squabbling for long enough to look for the location of previously mentioned safe. In addition, extremely useful items are discarded or poorly guarded, allowing our protagonist to easily find and utilise them. It all leaves something lacking in their plausibility as a true threat.

The film is also a bit of a kick in the face, and I don’t just mean the part when someone’s face literally gets stamped on. It tries to turn the tables so obviously so many times that the tables end up the right way around again. It’s not someone trying to break into a protagonist’s house: the protagonist is trying to break into their OWN house! And it’s not a dude trying to save his wife and kids from the bad guys: it’s the MUM trying to save the whole family from the bad guys. It comes across as a bit too earnest in its efforts to subvert the norms.

Ultimately, occasional tongue-in-cheek humour and good performances can’t quite make up of the fact that Breaking In still brims over with clichés, the story possessing the sharpness of a steamed pudding and quality of day-old kebab shop gravy. Not that this is necessary for a great action-thriller, but it also lacks the constant twists-and-turns excitement usually present in this sort of film to take your mind off the gaping plot holes.

Breaking In is a bit like the class clown: it causes laughs occasionally, is quite entertaining generally, but doesn’t quite hit the necessary marks. If I were its mum I’d send it to summer school.



 

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