‘Breaking In’ Isn’t Afraid To Let The Ladies Throw Down

In all walks of life, there’s one unwritten rule that everyone has to follow…never mess with a mama…

While Breaking In pretty well encapsulates the definition of ‘bare bones cinema’; it’s also a refreshing take on the home invasion thriller that allows for the ladies to take the lead in a refreshing and effective way.

Returning home to deal with the estate of her estranged father, Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) just wants this weekend over with as quickly as possible.  However, her father’s shady past has come back to haunt her as four armed men have now broken into this remote estate with the promise of a safe and a treasure trove of cash, and Shaun’s children have officially gotten in the way.  Rising to the challenge, Shaun 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.

We’ll be the first to admit that, Breaking In is never something that will be mistaken for ‘high art’ and it only doles out the bare essentials with minimal character development and exposition but all that is outweighed by a female driven action thriller that isn’t afraid to kick a little ass.

Ever since his strong directorial debut in the centre chair with V For Vendetta, James McTeigue has laid a few eggs along the way since breaking away from the Wachowski Sisters as a first Assistant Director for many years but this is almost a return to a quality form.  It’s the purest of the bare essentials as we quickly get set up on this ride that he is about take us on.  It’s well shot using the confines of the house and the estate to maximum efficiency, sure it was probably a sound stage in Atlanta but it never looked like it.  The use of darkness and shadow played to the films advantage as this really wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if they had shot it all during the day.  It’s just one really, REALLY bad night and while the script from Ryan Engle who has had a busy year with things like The Commuter & Rampage does have a few holes in it that you can drive a MACK truck through, it still hits all the necessary beats…and does it surprisingly well.

Gabrielle Union in the leading role is a solid fit as we buy her not only as a loving mother, but as someone not afraid to kick a little ass.  It’s about time that we get to see a woman (not to mention a woman of colour) to not be afraid to throw hands in a movie to defend her loved ones and not be some ex-special forces martial arts expert mom, instead she’s just a parent who got pushed WAY too far and it actually works.  Billy Burke is effectively sleazy as our bad guy breaking in for a payday while his supporting players run the gamut from laughably stereotypical and kind of pathetic.

Make no mistake, Breaking In is about the ride we are about to go on as its ultimate destination from a story standpoint is fairly self evident, all it asks is for you to hoot, holler, throw some popcorn at the screen and have a little fun along the way.

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Dave Voigt

David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf, to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema. Having launched his own home; In The Seats (intheseats.ca) back in 2015 for all the latest and greatest movie reviews and interviews he’s one of the leading voices in the film criticism scene in Toronto, and eventually the world. David is the Entertainment Editor for Addicted Magazine.