Gabrielle Union seems like an actress that doesn’t quite get the credit that she deserves. Her ability to convey sheer conviction within whatever script she is working with often makes her a solid and productive aspect of any good movie that she’s in, and a saving grace for the ones that are bad. She is always enjoyable to see on screen but in the case of “Breaking In,” her filmography has received a new entry to be classified in the category of the latter.
Playing a mother that has to spend the weekend at her childhood home with her children to finalize the sale of the estate following the sudden death of her estranged father, Union manages to hold her own admirably as she struggles to fight for her and her family’s lives when four burglars break into the mansion and hold the family hostage in their search to loot a hidden safe containing illicit riches. The ordeal that ensues however, is far from thrilling despite relying on its lead’s performance to carry the movie through.
“Breaking In” is a rather difficult movie to truly discuss, not because it must be shrouded in secret from the ears of those that haven’t seen it or because it’s bad in ways that defy conventional explanation, but simply because there really isn’t anything to it.
With the obvious discomfort Union conveys implying a tumultuous childhood that is expounded upon throughout the movie, leading to setup that requires her to break into a place of bad memories, one would think that the film would carry some sort of allegory about facing personal pains, fears and insecurities for the greater good of oneself and those that they love, but the truth is that the entire movie feels bizarrely void of any dramatic heft whatsoever. Despite the exposition-laden opening 10 to 15 minutes of the movie, “Breaking In,” in fact seems to go out of its way to be the most uninteresting execution of a thin concept as possible.
Some of the burglars occasionally have faceoffs with Union, in which she proclaims that they’re underestimating her despite them never having denigrated her in a way to imply that and in fact go out of their way to regularly treat her as a genuine threat. These kinds of little quirks and cop-outs are littered throughout the film, and leave behind a series of standard thriller sequences so perfunctory and visually unremarkable in execution that it doesn’t frustrate so much as it simply bores.
Billy Burke portrays the leader of his cartoonish henchman, whose charisma and level headedness provide the only thing in the film outside of Union’s performance that remains particularly engaging. His witty commentary on every phase of the plan coming undone almost feels as though the filmmakers put him there to beat the audience to the punch of picking apart just how flimsy the movie is.
There’s nothing about “Breaking In” that is particularly egregious or outright terrible, but given that Netflix, Amazon, and several other streaming services release content in this vein with more imagination every day, there really is little reason to rush out for a theater-going experience for it.
2 out of 5
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.