There’s a theme going around Hollywood and all over the world to empower women. It’s a great theme that should just be normal life instead of a “theme,” and while production on Gabrielle Union’s latest starring vehicle, Breaking In, was likely well underway by the time this new movement began, the movie is all about empowering women. Unfortunately, a sloppy script and what felt like too many hands in the cookie jar derailed what could have been a fantastic thriller. Let’s take a deeper look at our review of Breaking In.
Breaking In is the story of Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) and her family. After Shaun’s father, Isaac (Damien Leake) passes away, she is left with selling his large estate home in the country. She takes her daughter, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus), and son, Glover (Seth Carr) to the mansion with her as they plan a weekend of packing up the home and getting it ready to sell. In a case of extremely bad timing, the home is in the midst of being burglarized by Eddie (Billy Burke) and his gang of thugs. When the kids are taken hostage, it’s up to Shaun to save them.
The setup at the beginning of Breaking In is great. We’re introduced to Glover, who is clearly meant to be a tech kid. He’s probably around 10 or 12 years old, but he’s able to figure out the advanced home security system in a matter of minutes. He also deftly controls his drone with expert precision inside the house, all while teasing his older sister. Meanwhile, Jasmine seems like a fairly normal teenage girl, on her phone constantly and crushing on a boy she was supposed to hang out with instead of packing up a house all weekend.
Even Shaun offers intelligent foreshadowing as she immediately notices something is wrong as soon as the family arrives at the house. Things are out of place, the security system was being difficult, and something just didn’t seem right. It isn’t long before the family encounters Eddie and his gang, and things start to get serious. This is also about the time the movie completely falls apart.
While only one writer is credited on the film, Ryan Engle (Rampage, The Commuter, Non-Stop), the first half of the movie does not feel properly connected to the second half in terms of character development. Almost everything that was set up at the beginning of the movie feels abandoned by the time the film starts to pick up steam.
The tech guru, Glover, is reduced to staying in a bedroom while his sister is the only one working toward getting them out of a bad situation. Meanwhile, Shaun is busy being helped by plot convenience. Almost every encounter she has with the bad guys results in her winning out because of dumb luck or sheer ignorance. While Sam (Levi Meaden) is meant to be the stupid member of Eddie’s gang, the others succumb to ignorance even more often than the comic relief character.
It’s one thing to showcase an empowered mother trying to save her kids, but Shaun comes off more like a lucky person just trying to defend herself half the time. You can only have so many things happen out of plot convenience before it starts to bring down the film as a whole, and that’s exactly what happens in Breaking In. The film has some great characters that show promise at the beginning, but it quickly devolves into a brainless thriller that isn’t even all that thrilling.
About Breaking In
Synopsis: Shaun Russell takes her son and daughter on a weekend getaway to her late father’s secluded, high-tech vacation home in the countryside. The family soon gets an unwelcome surprise when four men break into the house to find hidden money. After managing to escape, Shaun must now figure out a way to turn the tables on the desperate thieves and save her captive children.
Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Ryan Engle
Stars: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral
Runtime: 1 Hour, 28 Minutes