“Breaking In” is not as painful a movie as it has been framed to be. In fact, coming in with modest expectations, viewers will likely find the film not nearly as torturous and dull as described by reviewers. Yes, in terms of creativity and character development this movie is worthy of its lowest critic and audience reviews. However, give director James McTeigue some props. Even with no trace of a thought-provoking on-screen relationship or imaginative cinematic technique throughout the entire film, “Breaking In” still manages to provide a pleasantly surprising amount of entertainment.
Just about every plot point of “Breaking In” can be extrapolated from the film’s far too revealing trailer. The thriller flick revolves around Shawn’s (Gabrielle Union, “Bring It On”) mission to save her son (Seth Carr, “Black Panther”) and daughter (Ajiona Alexus, “Acrimony”) after they are taken hostage inside her family estate by a band of criminals in search of a cash-loaded safe. Loaded with suspenseful, Die-Hard-like sequences of Shawn breaking into her own house and sneaking in silence beneath the nose of dangerous, leader of the criminal pack Eddie (Billy Burke “Twilight”), the film coasts along eliciting mild jump-scares and moments of panic, but failing to produce any major wow factor.
Alhough the film does not adhere to a realistic plot line or leave any substantial impact, thanks to Gabrielle Union these flaws are not fatal. Union’s impressive representation of her desperate, yet badass maternal character is ultimately what allows the film to hold the audience’s attention. There is little off which to go in terms of storyline, but Union’s success in hooking viewers in from the start and keeping them rooting for her throughout keeps the movie from falling flat.
Aside from Union’s awesome badass-ery, one of the only intriguing themes is female power. When the robbers first overtake the house, Eddie patronizes Shawn, voicing something along the lines of her being a woman at his mercy, who has no other option but to follow his orders. Later in the film, when the tables are turned and Shawn holds the upper hand, she turns the same phrase back on Eddie, smugly deeming him “a man at her mercy.” Whether intentional or not, this subtle exemplification of the reversal of power to Shawn that occurs by the end of the film could hint at broader implications to the current, contentious climate surrounding the imbalance of power when it comes to gender today.
Despite shortcomings from a lack of uniqueness and a bare-bones plot, the one thing that “Breaking In” cannot be passed off as is boring. Zipping up the film in a quick hour and a half, McTeigue wisely keeps the camera rolling without letting any sequence drag on for too long. The combination of Union’s appeal and the back-to-back action keeps audience members if not on their toes, at least remaining in their seats.