Breaking In is a tense little home invasion movie starring Gabrielle Union that shows the power and determination a mother can possess when her family is in danger.
Released to coincide with Mother’s Day in the U.S this Sunday, Breaking In is great for such an occasion. It’s a celebration of motherhood and family in the guise of a simple thriller and it is only during watching it that you realise there aren’t too many films these days that present femininity in this way.
The film tells the story of a mother who, along with her two children (Ajiona Alexus and Seth Carr), travels to the remote home of her recently deceased father. While there, the home is broken into by a group of criminals who have knowledge of a large amount of money stored in a safe somewhere in the house. From then on, it plays out as you might expect a film of this kind to play out, throwing a couple of little twists in there for good measure.
Breaking In is by no means a ground-breaking film. In fact, as a home invasion thriller, it is not particularly memorable. But it is Gabrielle Union’s powerful, badass role as mother Shaun Russell that makes this film worthwhile. Union herself is the standout aspect of the film. She shines above the supporting cast of criminals and it’s clear that this message of protecting your family in the face of adversity is one Union herself feels strongly about.
When we are met with films with “badass” female leads, these women are nearly always masculinized. In Breaking In, however, it is the typically feminine characteristics that make Russell such a badass, and it is actually rather refreshing to see empowering womanhood in this manner. Her determination to do whatever it takes to protect her family is wonderful to watch and particularly in scenes she shares with her on-screen children.
Director James McTeigue (V For Vendetta) does the job in creating an overall tense atmosphere and it is passably successful in this aspect, helped along by an occasionally overwhelming score, but there are certain plot elements which feel disappointingly underdeveloped. The film’s unevenness comes from its potential for a more interesting story, delving more into the mysterious and unknown reasons as to why there is so much money in a safe in this house. It makes you wonder if someone as clearly dedicated as Union wasn’t in the lead, then just how much worse Breaking In could have been.
Thankfully, Union is there to keep the film going strong and take your mind off the more negative aspects of the film, but this also makes you wonder that if the plot had been more developed, then surely Union would have got even more opportunity to shine.
Breaking In is a wonderful example of powerful motherhood in a forgettable example of a home invasion movie. Thankfully, the former sticks in the mind so much that the film is more than worth the time, especially as one to watch with your mother.
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