So I guess the best friend to the antagonist of 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999) went on and became a bad-ass mama-bear. There are worse ways to nab my attention.
The movie looks like it’s about a single mom and her two kids who are moving in to their now-deceased grandparents’ house, which is more like a “fortress” as the kid from the trailer describes it, as it’s got a ton of security measures built into it. But they get home-invaded by a group of dudes who seem to know their way around the house and manage to kidnap the kids while locking out the mom, who starts fighting her way back in.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Gabrielle Union (SLEEPLESS , ALMOST CHRISTMAS , and BIRTH OF A NATION ), Billy Burke (LIGHTS OUT ), Ajiona Alexus (ACRIMONY ), and Seth Carr (BLACK PANTHER  and TERMINATOR GENISYS ).
Now for the crew. Directing is James McTeigue, known for NINJA ASSASSIN (2009) and V FOR VENDETTA (2005). Penning the screenplay is Ryan Engle, known for RAMPAGE (2018) and THE COMMUTER (2018). Composing the score is Johnny Klimek, known for THE DARKNESS (2016) and A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (2016). The cinematographer is Toby Oliver, known for INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (2018), HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017), THE DARKNESS, and the upcoming HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 (2019). Finally, the editor is Joseph Jett Sally, known for NINJA ASSASSIN and TV show SENSE8 (2015 – 2018).
Overall, I think this has some potential. Bad ass mom putting the hurt on some douche bags, and looks like she’s pretty efficient at it, so I think this is going to be pretty fun. So long as the action is frequent and gives out some fun one-liners, I think I’ll be a happy little Peruvian boy.
This is my honest opinion of: BREAKING IN
Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) recently found out that her father just passed away and is now in the process of selling her childhood family home. Upon arrival, it turns out that her father transformed their home into a fortified home with expensive security measures all around the house. But as the day comes to a close, she and Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus), her teen daughter, and Glover (Seth Carr), her younger son, soon realize that they’re not alone in this house and four home invaders, lead by the gruff Eddie (Billy Burke), lock Shaun out, hold her kids hostage, all in search of a hidden safe with a lot of money, all the while Shaun attempts to break back in to save her kids.
I… don’t hate it. But I don’t like it nearly as much as I wanted.
The movie doesn’t start off particularly bad. Union, Alexus, and Carr certainly give fine enough performances for what they’re given. The closest thing to a problem is that the characters may be a touch bland. Although, I did appreciate that the siblings aren’t constantly bickering like school kids. Sure, they tease each other and get each other in trouble, but there is a sense that these two do care about each other. I don’t know, I’ve seen sibling relationships be way too friendly, or over the top constant fighting and I think this movie did a good job finding a balance.
But the silliness doesn’t take long to rear its head. Upon discovery of the computer system that controls all of the house’s defenses, Glover is way too knowledgeable about the technology at their disposal. This would be cool if the boy was established to be smarter than most kids his age and played an active part in thwarting the thieves or hindering their efforts, but this burst techno-babble only lasts in that one scene and never reemerges. So one has to ask, what was the point?
And once the plot starts kicking into high gear, the dumb really starts hitting hard. Like when Shawn is fighting off the first of the robbers that attacks her, she’s on speaker phone with the pizza place she was attempting to order from, but somehow doesn’t simply scream for help and instead scrambles for the phone. Pretty stupid there, movie.
But if you took a good long second to think about this movie, the details of the premise aren’t thought out very well. We eventually learn that Shawn’s father was audited by the IRS, or something to that effect, and… somehow this ties into why he fortified his house with bulletproof windows? I don’t see the connection, to be honest. Hell, the robbers are only here because one of them slept with… his daughter, who isn’t Shawn, and is a sibling that Shawn never references, I’m actually not following any of this. It’s likely that I simply missed a whole lot of information, but perhaps that’s because the exposition is boring, and maybe I subconsciously think that this movie is a shit-load more complex than it needs to be. Big house, lots of security, wouldn’t that be kind of a prime target for a band of ambitious thieves to steal whatever’s valuable? It’s not like the details of this robbery and our protagonists’ survival is really dependent on this information. And for a movie taking place in such a secure home, wouldn’t you think that there would be more than a few ways to call out for help other than a reliance on cell phone service, landlines, or even an alarm by the door. Plus, this home belonged to an aging man, one would think there’d be a few life-alert buttons lying around. Just saying.
In fact, if you really think about it, this movie is basically a discount PANIC ROOM (2002). Really think about it. It’s about three robbers (okay, four of them, but one of them is so useless that I don’t count him) invading the home of a single mother with her kids (again, Shawn is married, but the dad has about two minutes worth of screen time, I don’t count him either), looking for money that is secured in a safe that they can’t otherwise get to, there’s infighting among the robbers, one of them is a sadistic, blood-thirsty psycho who is new to the group, and another is more sympathetic and likable who came up with the job in the first place, among other parallels. The problem is that PANIC ROOM was a suspenseful and stylized thriller with some seriously high stakes other than stolen money. The mother in that movie had a daughter that was sick and needed proper medical treatment and they had plenty of options to call for help that all ended in failure. Here, it really is just the money, and if you’re a fan of PANIC ROOM, or at the very least appreciate how well-crafted it was, then this movie is staggeringly dull by comparison.
I would go on and on, praising Union’s performance because I do like certain aspects that this movie presents. For one thing, I like that Shawn isn’t constantly running around, short of breath, freaking out and half crying the whole movie. No, she confronts many of the robbers head on. She’s calm, collected, and often control of the situation bounces back and forth between the robbers and Shawn. They all have to think on their feet and get creative with their next steps. Shawn’s not afraid to fight back, get her hands dirty, make calculated threats, is clearly smart and resourceful, all great attributes to have in a compelling and cheer-worthy protagonist. But this is hampered by other dumb choices. Not just simply failing to scream for help when her phone was on speaker, but I guess Shawn has the capability to go all ninja and suspend herself on the side of a spiraling staircase? This sort of just happens… because. It would be interesting, if say, Shawn was military-trained or a former gymnast, having a sense of athleticism to explain her strength in these moments, but it simply happens because of bad writing.
While I admit that some action scenes and interactions are fun, and some scenes can be pretty satisfying, the movie as a whole doesn’t really work. While you have a fine enough protagonist and a few antagonists work as well, but the plot has far too many holes and inconsistencies to merit high praise. I can see an audience having some fun with it (mine sure did), and I won’t argue too intensely about it, and I certainly don’t hate the movie or think it was any particular waste of time, but it’s still not very good. As a recommendation, viewer beware. If you’re going in expecting some awesome action from a mom kicking ass in the name of her children, you’ll be disappointed. It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but save this for a rental, or for a streaming service. Payback is… pretty underwhelming.
My honest rating for BREAKING IN: a weak 3/5