Movie Review: ‘Breaking In’: Falls Flat in Praising Moms for Mother’s Day

By Mark Jackson, Epoch Times
May 13, 2018 Updated: May 13, 2018

PG-13 | | Thriller | 11 May 2018 (USA)

A wealthy black man goes for a jog. We know he’s wealthy because of his lengthy selection of the perfect watch to go for a jog with.

He eventually gets slammed by a car, and while that’s sad, the jog (and watch selection) was getting overly long, and my guess is that most people were thankful the jogging portion of the film had concluded, albeit violently.

Then somebody gets out of the car and stomps on the black man’s head, much like Ed Norton’s character did in “American History X,” and you immediately anticipate lots of racism. But “Breaking In” is not about racism.

“Breaking In” should have been “Die Hard” in a McMansion, but this Mother’s Day-coinciding release—an obviously intended paean to fierce moms—unfortunately dies easily.

Mom in Action

Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) is the daughter of the aforementioned wealthy dad and drives her teen daughter, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus), and young son, Glover (Seth Carr), to her family’s highly, highly, highly security-and-surveillance-outfitted Wisconsin manse, for the purpose of selling it after dad’s death.

Gabrielle Union as a mom rescuing her kids in “Breaking In.” (Universal Pictures)

But somebody’s already in there. That would be Eddie (Billy Burke), a bad man, and a couple of skeevy losers he somehow broke out of prison for this gig: Sam (Levi Meaden) and Duncan (Richard Cabral).

They’re trying to sniff out a hidden safe full of millions. Did Eddie stomp dad’s head? We’ll never know. Anyway, they manage to lock mama bear out, tie up the kids, and try to play “Let’s Make a Deal”: the kids in exchange for the safe’s whereabouts.

Seth Carr (L) and Ajiona Alexus in Universal Picture’s “Breaking In.”  (Universal Pictures)

Why Doesn’t She Just Call the Cops?

At some point, you wonder why Shaun doesn’t report the situation, and then you realize it’s because the cops would show up and shut down the movie.

Instead, there are a bunch of repetitive chases around the house, in the basement, on the roof, and in the bushes. But instead of escalating, the collective egregious acting from the bad guys flattens all tension.

Ajiona Alexus (L) and Gabrielle Union in “Breaking In.” (Universal Pictures)

Burke looks like he’s perennially about to stifle a yawn, overseeing the proceedings like a weary ringmaster or a soap opera criminal. I’m highly suspicious he spent a lot of time on a daytime drama. Let me Google that right now. No, no soap opera work. In that case, the fault is all on the director.

Billy Burke as a career criminal in “Breaking In.” (Universal Pictures)

The only scary thing in the movie is Richard Cabral, who was an actual convict and former gang member-turned-actor. His wide-eyed stare is super-freaky and, with some decent direction, would probably have produced a performance that would give you nightmares for years.

Union is a major movie star with charisma for days, normally. This role is more of a workout than an acting gig, what with all that sprinting around the house.

Dad (Jason George) comes to the rescue and gets immediately knocked out. This clearly isn’t a movie for Father’s Day. Just Mother’s Day. Why don’t we just write it off as a workout for Union, where she gets in shape to take on a leading role in the next “Mission Impossible” (should she choose to accept it) and helps Tom Cruise do some real breaking in, someplace?

Gabrielle Union as a mom rescuing her kids in “Breaking In.” (Universal Pictures)

‘Breaking In’
Director: James McTeigue
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Jason George, Seth Carr, Christa Miller
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: May 11
Rated 1.5 stars out of 5

Follow Mark on Twitter: @FilmCriticEpoch