‘Breaking In’ Is A Pretty Darn Good Thriller About A Very Impressive Mother (Spoiler-Free Review)

This Mother’s Day weekend, take your mom to see Gabrielle Union transform into a badass mother to save her kids. With this film, Universal is offering something different for its audiences: a thriller about a mom who must break into her home and break some rules in an effort to rescue her children who are trapped inside alongside some shady characters.

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When a series of unfortunate events lead Shaun (Union) and her children, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr), to a remote location to take care of her father’s estate after his untimely death, everything is not as it seems. Little does Shaun know that she is about to step into her father’s home during a break and enter. Not only is Shaun at risk, but now her children have become a pawn in the trespassers’ plans.

Breaking In takes a fairly standard intruders plot line and flips it on its head by having the desperate mother trying to break in instead. In essence, Breaking In plays like Panic Room for a whole new generation of people. The intruders’ objective is the same: they are searching for $4 million that is hidden somewhere in the home. The trespassers are led by Eddie (Billy Burke), who is serviceable as the primary antagonist, and he is followed by a pair of criminals who fill out fairly clichéd archetypes.

Shaun is not special or unique in any way. However, she often surprises the intruders with her resourcefulness and determination. She is simply a mom trying to save her kids. Her objective is clear and she focuses all her energy on rescuing her kids and getting them to safety.  But just like all moms, Shaun is not perfect. She makes mistakes, she gets into trouble and she underestimates her opponents.

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The film is competently made, but the story isn’t pushed to any extremes. It’s fairly standard action-thriller fair, but still quite entertaining and has a script that offers some moments of levity while adding in some shocking details about its characters. In regards to the action, it is well staged and shot. This is specifically demonstrated in the way the film carries a sense of dread and intensity throughout. In other words, it is well-made but at times lacks excitement.

Despite the film’s flaws, Union elevates it with a stellar performance and is very compelling to watch. The film is at its best when you are witnessing her relentless drive to save her kids.

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The story and the intruders may be bland, but you are still engaged with what is happening. The audience is allowed to get a sense of the layout of the house and there are very few moments where the audience will be lost or confused as to where everyone is in the home. One of the great things about the films is the feeling of claustrophobia. Although the house is big, you get the sense that danger lurks around every corner, despite a plethora of rooms and only 4 intruders.

Breaking In is very simple and to the point. It does not pretend to be anything more than what the trailers suggest. Paired with Union’s ability to capture your attention and the staging of the film, it will give audiences enough to be entertained and engaged with until  the end. All-in-all, it’s a satisfying thriller that will leave you wanting to hit the gym and learn a few self-defense moves of your own.

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