Cast: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus
Director: James McTeigue
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Next Mother’s Day, Gabrielle Union stars as a woman who will stop at nothing to rescue her two children being held hostage in a house designed with impenetrable security. No trap, no trick and especially no man inside can match a mother with a mission when she is determined on Breaking In.
In recent years, we have seen great movies like Atomic Blonde come out that feature a strong, empowering female lead, a well-written story, and supporting characters that add substantial content with limited time. This, however, is not one of those movies. While Union is serviceable in the lead role, the story is predictable, the characters are stupid, and I never felt emotionally invested at any point when I watched Breaking In.
The film follows Shaun (Union), a woman whose father has recently passed away and she must settle his estate. She takes her two kids up to her father’s house in the woods and while she is there with them, a group of robbers attack their house and trap her children inside. With Shaun outside of the house, she must now go to whatever measures necessary to rescue her kids and protect what is left of her father’s house. One of the things that separates good action movies from poor action movies with female leads is good movies establish their leads early on which make their actions later in the film believable. In Atomic Blonde or even in Red Sparrow, the characters show significant physical prowess in the first out before the real action begins. Shaun’s physical background is… she is a desperate mom. I understand that any mother would do whatever it takes to rescue her kids from despair, but most of the physical actions she takes are ridiculous. Based on the sheer size and strength of the robbers, there is no chance that these kids would have been rescued. Speaking of the villains, in stereotypical poor movie fashion, all of them fit a typecast villain and they do nothing to break that mold. You have Eddie (Burke) the meticulous, no-nonsense leader of the group who is 100% focused on getting the job done. You have Duncan (Cabral) the loose cannon with a taste for blood and violence. And finally, you have Sam (Levi Meaden) the thief with the moral compass who feels for the children in this situation. None of these characters do anything to break outside of the molds that they are placed in and are coupled with terrible dialogue and stupid decision-making. I found myself at multiple points throughout the film either laughing at the stupidity or rolling my eyes at the decisions that these criminals made. The one thing I can give the film credit for is that the cinematography is passable. If you enjoy slow-motion shots, then you will enjoy this movie as there are more than enough slow-motion shots to go around. I do not personally love slow-motion shots, but the ones in this film are not very distracting. Outside of that, there are multiple scenes that show Shaun running through the woods. I have seen more than my fair share of movies that would have had the shakiest camerawork in the world, so I give the film credit for keeping the camera level the whole time. However, if the best part of your movie is that something is not as bad as it could be, your movie is probably not very good.
Overall, I anticipated that this film would underwhelm based on the promotional material for it, but I hoped for a sliver of a possibility that the film would surprise me and at least be serviceable. I admire the effort that Union put into her role, but this film really has nothing working for it from the start. We have this premise done multiple times in the past and oftentimes at a much higher level. If you enjoy cheesy, B-list drama and suspense with characters that do not think or act like normal people, then you will probably have a good time with this movie. Otherwise, you will end up with a crummy action movie that is a chore to get through.
Overall Score: 3/10