Film Review: BREAKING IN (USA 2018) ***1/2

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Breaking In Poster

A woman fights to protect her family during a home invasion.


James McTeigue


Ryan Engle


BREAKING IN is a confidently executed action thriller written by Ryan Engle and directed by Australian James McTeague, best remembered for his action flick V FOR VENDETTA.  The film centres on a mother who uses her wits to outsmart the home invaders and save her kids, the film arriving appropriately timed for Mother’s Day.

The film opens with an older black jogger taking to the streets for his local exercise.   It is quite clear from the way the camera works that something nasty is going to happen, which predictably would be him being hit by a car.  When this occurs, the shock and rise in volume of the soundtrack is enough to jolt even the least suspecting from their seats, this followed by a gruesome crunch by a foot of the man’s face lying on the road.  The first thing that comes to mind is whether all this violence is necessary.

Necessary or not, the next scene shows the jogger’s daughter, Shaun (Gabrielle Union) taking her two children to the dad’s mansion out in the country in preparation for the house’s sale.  But burglars creep in, looking to robe the safe for a ton load of cash (the American dream, in the words of one of the burglars).  They have no qualms of murdering the children and the mother who must protect them, which makes good thriller fodder of fans of this genre.

Despite the simple story, the film turns out pretty well with nail biting suspense from start to finish with hardly a dull moment.  The script which contains minimal dialogue is smart enough when it wants to.  The mother who does not know how large an acre is (when questioned by her son) turns out pretty smart when she has to protect her kids. “I am your mother, it is my job to worry about you!”, “You broke into the wrong house!” are examples of simple yet effective no-nonsense dialogue.  The only thing unexplained in the film is how mommy knows all those martial-arts moves.  (The promo screening was preceded by a martial-arts demonstration by a local martial-arts club.)  The script also capitalizes on the current female/male issue of equality rights and harassment.  “There is nothing you can do, you are a woman,” yells one of the burglars, Eddie (Billy Burke) to Shaun.   Shaun later demonstrates that he is as then a man at the mercy to a woman, to the cheers, even by the men in the promo screening.  It is also good to see coloured good guys and the whites as the villains.

The cinematography by Toby Oliver is impressive especially the exterior shots in the night when Shaun is outside the mansion.  Lighting is often just sufficient to see the figures moving about,  The mansion interiors are also well-shot revealing the vastness of the modern design.  The soundtrack contains a neat, pulsing beat to the action and includes a catchy tune when the drones are activated by the son, Glover.

The choice of having the hispanic looking psycho as the last surviving killer is a good one.  Richard Cabral (playing Duncan) is perfect as the psycho villain with his huge eyes. lean totally tattooed body and weird accent.  Duncan clearly derives more pleasure in slaughtering the children then getting the cash.

BREAKING IN proves that a simple premise can still turn out to be fantastic entertainment.  The Super Mom in this movie is just as exciting as any Marvel super action hero.  The film also has an important message: “Don’t mess with Mom!”


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