Breaking In follows mother of two, Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) as she sorts through the grief of losing her father. Her sense of loss is soon compounded by a home invasion attempt which transpires while she and her children are preparing her father’s country estate for sale.
I am a huge fan of the home invasion subgenre. Accordingly, I was really looking forward to checking out Breaking In. Unfortunately, the film suffers from a complete lack of originality. There are pieces of the flick that work. But, Ryan Engle’s (Rampage) paint-by-numbers screenplay keeps the picture from ever being anything more than run-of-the-mill.
Almost every attempt at a plot twist is painfully obvious before it happens. The film feels like it was cobbled together with every tired trope from every home invasion thriller to come before it. Breaking In possesses none of the magic of films like The Strangers or You’re Next but reuses many conventions similar to those featured in such films. Making things worse, said conventions have been watered down to achieve a family friendly PG-13 rating.
Director James McTeigue (Ninja Assassin, V for Vendetta) fails to ever really develop, let alone, maintain a genuine sense of suspense. As soon as any sort of tension starts to arise, the viewer is almost immediately taken out of the moment by the film’s predictability or lack of originality. This was a huge disappointment to me, as I am a big fan of some of the director’s earlier work.
The film’s one and only saving grace is Gabrielle Union’s performance. She is a strong, resourceful female character who risks life and limb to save her children without any help from her husband or any other man. That’s the kind of character we need on screens right now. But, it needs to be coupled with some fresh concepts and a sense of originality, not recycled ideas that have already been done to death.
The rest of the performances in Breaking In are passable. Ajiona Alexus and Seth Carr are believable enough as Shaun’s children. But Billy Burke (Twilight) and has gang of goons just aren’t all that intimidating. None of the villains ever fully convinced me that Shaun or her children were really in true peril. Each of them felt very generic and harmless, never letting the viewer forget, even for a moment, that they were watching a movie. A lot of the blame for that can be assigned to Engle’s script. It felt as if all of his focus was poured into making Shaun a memorable character and he subsequently forgot to give anyone else human characteristics.
Breaking In gets points for showcasing an empowered female lead, but that is overshadowed by the lack of originality and heavy reliance on tired tropes that are present throughout the picture. If you’re looking for something light and airy to pass 90-minutes, this one may be for you. But if you’re in the market for a film that defies expectations and elevates the home invasion genre, you should probably look elsewhere.
The Breaking In Blu-Ray release has a bevy of special features and bonus content, ranging from featurettes to an alternate opening. This should be a treat for anyone that was really taken with the film. But, everyone else is probably safe skipping most or all of the bonus content. Breaking In makes its debut on Blu-Ray and DVD August 7, 2018.
WICKED RATING: 4/10
Director(s): James McTeigue
Writer(s): Ryan Engle
Stars: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Ajiona Alexus and Seth Carr
Release: August 7th (DVD and Blu)
Studio/ Production Co: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Budget: $6 Million (Estimated)
Sub-Genre: Home Invasion