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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Breaking In

Breaking In, the new home invasion thriller, is being advertised as a Mother's Day movie, because it's about a mom (played by Gabrielle Union) trying to save her two kids from a bunch of crooks who break into her house.  I feel like I've just given away the entire movie with that one sentence, because that's literally all there is to this.  Oh, I forgot to mention, the criminals she faces against are so dumb, they make Harry and Marv, the burglars from the first two Home Alone movies, look like masterminds.

As the film opens, Shaun Russell (Union), and her two kids Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr) are taking a ride to the wooded area of Wisconsin, where Shaun's late father had a high-tech fortified fortress of a mansion where he used to do some shady and illegal dealings.  She never had a good relationship with her dad, and hasn't seen him since she was a child.  But, she figures his place could draw in a nice profit if she sells it.  Why she is bringing the kids along to a known felon's hideout, instead of leaving them behind with her husband (Jason George), only screenwriter Ryan Eagle knows for sure.  They arrive at the massive and sprawling house, which has been set up with every advance security and computer-controlled contraption known to man.  And before the home invaders show up, we get a good 10 minutes of Shaun wandering around the house, mostly calling out for her kids. (She says "Glover" so much during this sequence, it could inspire a drinking game where you take a shot each time she says his name.)

When the crooks do arrive, it turns out that they murdered her father in order to get at a safe that's hidden inside the house, and supposedly holds millions of dollars.  They cut the power to the security system, which according to this movie, gives them 90 minutes to find the money and get out before the police show up.  You would think cutting power to the security system would notify the police much quicker, but logic has no place here.  The bad guys did not expect anyone to be home, and quickly kidnap the two kids.  They try to grab Shaun also, but she apparently has the same "certain set of skills" that Liam Neeson possessed in the Taken movies, and can stay one step ahead of them and dispatch them with brute and deadly force.  There are quite a few scenes of brutal violence, but they have been cleverly edited so the movie can have the "golden" PG-13 rating.  I guess the filmmakers wanted a movie where the criminals slit a woman's neck, and the hero stabs someone to death with his own knife, to be one that the whole family could see together.

The four villains who are holding the kids hostage are Eddie (Billy Burke), the cold and calculating leader, Peter (Mark Furze), who seems to have the closest thing to a conscience, as he doesn't want to hurt the kids, Duncan (Richard Cabral), who is a raving psychopath, and Sam (Levi Meaden), who gets dispatched so quickly in the film that we never really get to see what part he played in the scheme. (The dialogue tells us he was the tech guy of the operation.) The thrill of the film is supposed to come from seeing an ordinary woman like Shaun rise up and fight to protect her kids, and it would be thrilling, if Shaun ever came across as being an ordinary woman  She has the fighting and stealth skills of a trained assassin, and seems like she has been waiting her entire life for the moment when she would get to save the people she loves from incompetent crooks.  I kept on waiting for the scene where we would actually find out about this woman and where she trained, but it never comes.  We actually learn nothing about her.

The only way a movie like Breaking In could work is if it delivered on some simple and cheap thrills, which it never does.  Even at 88 minutes, the movie seems to drag its feet to the inevitable conclusion that we all know is coming.  Director James McTeigue (2005's V for Vendetta) does give the film a certain slick look, but it's all at the expense of a story that is too stupid, and characters that are barely there.

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