Film Review – Breaking In
Panic Room without the panache, James McTeigue‘s home invasion thriller Breaking In lands on the stoop with a thump this coming weekend and I’m here to tell you why this hilariously inept stinker might just be worth a trip to the matinee. Or, at the very least, a shameful Redbox rental.
Gabrielle Union gamely takes the role of Shaun Russell, a tough, independent woman (as we’re verbally reminded throughout with the subtlety of a flying brick) who is traveling with her two children (Ajiona Alexus, Seth Carr) to her estranged father’s luxurious estate in rural Wisconsin. Some vague utterings and a gnarly opening scene in which we witness the old man’s murder imply her relationship with him wasn’t exactly ideal, but that won’t stop her from turning over his mansion for a buck. Sounds like she may have earned it.
Trouble is brewing, though, as it’s soon discovered a quartet of no-good-nicks are already there to locate and break into the old man’s safe, containing a supposed 4 million big ones. Presumably because of his alluded-to criminal misdeeds prior to his murder, the mansion is high-tech as hell. Banks of surveillance cameras and a security system intent on not letting anyone in. Or out.
The mild twist here, such as it is, is that rather than working to keep these thugs from entering the home, Shaun finds herself trapped outside of it. The invaders have her kids in their captivity and she’s fighting to get back in.
Why, you ask, does she not flee to a neighbor or police station for help? Did the intruders threaten to kill them if she made a move? Nah, not explicitly or otherwise, but why shed light on a glaringly bad plot hole when we can talk about all the ass kicking she does?
I’m sorry, did I say plot hole, singular? This turkey is riddled with them. My two other favorite gaffs:
– At the first sign of trouble, and before her phone is taken from her, Shaun does manage to put a call into police. Now granted, she doesn’t get an opportunity to explain the situation, but we distinctly hear the operator answer before the call is disconnected. I won’t Google it and ruin my own fun but wouldn’t that alone warrant a pop-in from authorities?
– (MILD, INEXCUSABLE, SPOILER) Late in the film, Shaun’s son Glover (Carr) gets the upper hand on a baddie by grabbing his gun. We see him shoot directly at the man and then cut away. When we return to the scene the kids are again being chased by him, gun AGAIN in hand, as if the director himself forgot about the stakes he’d set up a minute previous.
The bad guys themselves are ridiculously cookie cutter in their desires and motivations. Sam (Levi Meaden) is the kid who was just along for the ride, ultimately good-hearted and worried whether or not he has the gall to kill if necessary. Duncan (Richard Cabral) is the hot-head, quick to slice any fool who crosses him. And finally, the head of operations, Eddie (Billy Burke), a cool-as-a-cucumber lothario who has a handle on everything. Except, apparently, the first or second (or 80th) thing about home invasions. Maybe verify whether or not family or friends may be coming to the house of a man who has JUST died? Or gather even the most basic of details about the house layout and location of the safe they’re not even certain exists.
The Home Alone-reminiscent booby traps Shaun manages to assemble on a whim might even make you laugh despite yourself and Union narrowly saves this trash again and again with her goofy commitment and impressive range of facial expressions per second. All in all, Breaking In is glorious crap.