Breaking In (**1/2) is maturing in front of the camera…and behind it

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Breaking In – 2018

Director James McTeigue
Screenplay Ryan Engle
Starring Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajionia Alexis, Levi Meaden, Seth Carr, Mark Furze, Jason George, Christa Miller, Damien Leake

Gabrielle Union is someone I’ve always liked, but never enough to seek out one of her movies, beyond the ones my wife wanted to watch. Pretty sure that list begins with 10 Things I Hate About You and ends with Bring it On. One thing I am a fan of is when women age gracefully in Hollywood. One might think it’s a little late in the game to make Union an action hero. If Jodie Foster can be in Panic Room when she was 40, Union can remake it at 45, especially when she looks like she’s 25.

Union is listed as a producer of this film. I am happy for this and its because of this I want to like what I see.

This is not a good film. It is a story that’s been done several times. It doesn’t matter if a story is rehashed, as long as the people making it add certain intangibles. The afore mentioned Panic Room had Foster’s supreme acting skill and David Fincher using every ounce of the digital screen as his playground. Breaking In has the game, but not quite as talented Union pushing herself to give us crowd pleasing moments, providing the crowd likes mothers who can kick ass.

The story is simple. Union is Shaun Russell, the married mother of two who’s estranged father is murdered at the beginning of the story. We find out why he’s estranged when she takes the kids to her old house for the weekend to get it ready to sell off as part of his estate. We find that the murderers have already infiltrated the estate by the time she’s nestled in, had a glass of vino and is ordering pizza for the kiddos.

Every single character in the script is a service to our heroine. They need to provide the moments and dialogue that will allow her to shine, but still give her a challenge that seems insurmountable for her and those she’s sworn to protect.

Leading this brigade is Burke, the “brains” of the group. His real purpose is to show deference to Shaun. There is rarely a turn in the film that doesn’t involve him complimenting our hero to the crooks and murderers working for him. “Mother’s don’t run,” is one of my faves. I would have used it as the title of the film if I liked it more. He is exactly as smart as it takes to get most of the way through the movie and no more.

Other stalwarts of commonality include one plucky kid (Alexis) and her tech savvy younger brother (Carr) who is there to explain the intricate tech to his mom as if he’s  Benji Dunn in Mission Impossible, then to be the softest target when the mean guys are around.

Of the bad guys there is the first guy to underestimate the heroine and the one who thinks this has gone too far. Then there’s the psycho, who has a knife because he likes how intimate it makes the killings, and stuff. None of these guys are interesting, beyond the “What film did I see him in before?” game one’s mind starts wander. This happens often here.

If you like original houses, this one is nice. I appreciate the tour as they slide in and out of rooms. A better director than McTeigue might have made more of the location, but hey, get it while you can.

One doesn’t make it through a film like this if they’re here for something that has an unexpected twist. If you make it through, you just want to see how Union fights through the bad guys and the cliches. She handles both competently.

There will be no awards given for Breaking In, but there’s nothing wrong with this film. This is especially if you like the idea of a mature woman in Hollywood calling her own shots. Even if they’re average shots, they still mean something more when she’s holding her own.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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