BREAKING IN is pretty standard stuff for a thriller. The filmmakers say it’s different because it’s done with a female protagonist instead of a man as the action hero. But it was executed much better in the movie “Panic Room” which had a similar story.
Shaun (Gabrielle Union) is going to her childhood home in the country. She is traveling there with her two kids Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr). The reason for the trip is that her father Isaac (Damien Leake) was murdered in a brutal hit and run. Isaac was a criminal and was being brought forth on charges by the district attorney. The country house is a beautiful sprawling property. Glover comments that it must have been lonely for his mother to grow up here. Shaun enters the house and memories flood back. Various items remind her of yesteryear. Her children though would rather be someplace else.
Something though seems a bit off. The security system is offline and the power seems to have gone out. You do get a sense of dread in these scenes as you know just by the title that something will go down and it won’t be pleasant. Isaac had put in a security system to preserve his ill gotten gains. Glover helpfully tells his mother that the system is quite easy to use with a handy remote control. Alert viewers will know immediately what that means. Director James McTeigue employs the use of steadicams and hand held cameras to put the audience right there in the action. It has a nice feel to it. There is a good scene involving a drone as it darts in various rooms.
As the movie gets going, a band of thieves take the children hostage. Shaun is left on the outside trying to you guessed it break in. The leader of the thieves is Eddie (Billy Burke). He shows to be a calm presence in this swirling chaos. Two of his cohorts, the mercurial Duncan (Richard Cabral) and the sensitive Sam (Levi Meaden), he met while they were in prison. The fourth member is Peter (Mark Furze), who was brought on to get the safe open. These men did not expect anyone to be at home. They especially didn’t know they were tangling with a determined mother like Shaun.
The thieves are looking for a safe that has four million dollars in it. Shaun though has other plans and the two groups take turns trying to get the upper hand. Union shows some impressive physicality in her role as she tangles with the foes. The storyline though is quite bare. We don’t know anything about any of these characters. There is not anything that you can latch on to and relate to them. The action scenes are adequately done. I really wanted some surprises thrown in to keep me off balance. They never really came. You have the usual speeches by the villains and one character that is hard to kill. It honestly doesn’t add up to much no matter the noble ideals by the filmmakers.
BREAKING IN is a disappointing thriller that is helped somewhat by an enthusiastic performance by Gabrielle Union. It still doesn’t rise about the standard action thriller.
Video: The visual aspect of the film was fine. Everything was well lit and easy to see. The country house looked great on the screen.
Audio: Closed captioning is crucial for this film since there is some whispering involved. So there was a strain at times to hear what they were saying.
Alternate Opening-The Gas Station (2:08): Audience would have gotten their first look at Shaun and her kids here. The director and screenwriter stated that viewers may have been confused by her reaction in the bathroom and drawn the wrong conclusions. You can view this with or without the commentary by the director and screenwriter.
Extended/Deleted Scenes (14:28): There are four scenes in all. There is more of the drone scene and more dialogue in other scenes. You can also hear the commentary from the director and screenwriter on this feature as well.
One Bad Mother (4:19): The actors and filmmakers discuss what it means to have a female action hero who is also a mother.
A Filmmaker’s Eye: James McTeigue (5:06): The story is discussed. The filmmakers and actors talk about working with McTeigue and how he came to the project. Shots and the locations are also gone over.
A Lesson in Kicking Ass (4:19): The fight scenes are discussed. The filmmakers wanted them to be realistic and not choreographed. The roof top scene is featured prominently in the dialogue.
A Hero Evolved (2:54): This is basically where they talk over how important it was to have a female to be the protagonist and not be saved by a man.
Feature Commentary with Director James McTeigue and Screenwriter Ryan Engle: The commentary is very conversational. McTeigue at times would ask Engle questions about the screenplay. They would both discuss various scenes, the characters and the set location.