John Boyega stars in “Breaking” (Photo Credit: Kory Mello/Obscured Pictures).

(“Breaking” trailer courtesy of Bleeker Street)

In the groundbreaking hip-hop track “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, emcee Melle Mel rapped, “Don’t push me ‘cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head…It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”

While life is like a jungle, that should not be the case for those who put their lives on the line to protect American freedoms.

Nevertheless, “Breaking” shows how heartbreaking and tragic neglecting American heroes can become when we do not take seriously their concerns, well-being and mental health.

Honestly, besides giving soldiers who serve their country standing ovations at ball games, do Americans, and America as a whole, fully value its true heroes?

The movie “Breaking” will give moviegoers an answer that they might not want to believe.

“Breaking” begins with Brian Brown-Easley (John Boyega) getting escorted out of a building wearing handcuffs.

The beauty of that original scene is audiences will not know why Brian gets handcuffed and/or escorted out of a facility by law enforcement.

Did Brian just get released from prison?

Did he get handcuffed before police decided not to formally arrest him?

Moviegoers will not know immediately.

What moviegoers will know, almost immediately, is the fact that something is amiss with Brian.

In “Breaking,” Brian does not appear specifically menacing.

However, Brian does look a bit touched.

However, finding out what is stressing him is not immediately known.

In “Breaking,” Brian only seems at ease when he talks with his daughter on the telephone.

Unfortunately, because of issues with his ex-wife Cassandra Brown-Easley (Olivia Washington) and telephone issues, Brian only has sporadic conversations and few physical interactions with his daughter, Kiah Easley (London Covington).

Brian once had an income that could support his family.

He once had the mental health necessary to fight wars for America.

After serving his country, Brian even attended college, thanks to the G.I. bill.

At one time, he was not on medication.

But what happens to a hero that is reduced to taking medication just to stay sane?

What happens to an individual that has lost his loving wife because of his predicament?

What happens to someone who served his country in battle when he cannot even pay his rent at the sleazy motel he calls home?

Most importantly, what happens to a man’s psyche when the country that he loves does not return the love back when he needs it the most?

Sure, the military often tells soldiers how great they are.

Unfortunately, when those soldiers are used up physically, emotionally and mentally and the government has no use for them, they get the boot quicker than someone can say, “U.S.A.”

That is the predicament Brian finds himself in.

In “Breaking,” Brian has tried everything to keep his sanity.

However, everyone has a breaking point, even heroes that have escaped death on foreign battlefields.

Therefore, when Brian finally breaks, he takes it out on his local Wells Fargo bank.

After Brian takes out a miniscule withdrawal, he holds the bank up, taking two employees Rosa Diaz (Selenis Leyva) and Estel Valerie (Nicole Beharie) of the bank hostage until his demands and grievances are heard by a large and widespread audience.

In “Breaking,” it is not necessarily just money that Brian seeks.

Brian also seeks an audience that will hear what he and other brave soldiers go through when they are no use to the military or the government at-large.

And if Brian’s words go unheard, he has no problem making sure everyone hears the explosives that he brought into that Wells Fargo bank, even if someone gets hurt.

And although crime is always wrong, like some movie criminals before him, Brian is the type of “criminal” that people will empathize with and root for because of all that he has endured.

Furthermore, who can’t relate to being pushed to the edge in life, work or in a relationship?

In essence, everyone has been like Brian from “Breaking” at one point.

But what separates Brian from many others is what he does once he reaches his breaking point.

Boyega’s performance as Brian is not just in the dialogue.

Sure, the way Brian speaks shows his mental health struggles.

However, Boyega’s facial expressions and mannerisms are what stand out the most from his performance in “Breaking.”

Moviegoers will care for Brian.

But in real life, many people would stay away from Brian because of his weird facial expressions, body language and quirky behavior.

Nevertheless, Boyega is not the only actor to handle their business in “Breaking.”

Beharie gives a performance of quiet strength and heroic calm.

The film also boasts appearances from acting heavyweights like Connie Britton and Jeffrey Donovan.

However, moviegoers will savor the performance of the late, great Michael Kenneth Williams in “Breaking,” one of the final performances of his stellar career that was made famous by his portrayal of Omar in the HBO Series “The Wire” from 2002-2008.

IMDB shows Williams has one more upcoming movie on his filmography entitled, “Surrounded.”

Additionally, IMDB has one more TV role on his filmography, a series entitled, “Vital Signs.”

Unfortunately for “Breaking,” the movie is not that great cinematically, with much of the film inside the Wells Fargo bank.

But it is not the visuals that are supposed to break out in “Breaking.”

It is that feeling of breaking that everyone can relate to that will make moviegoers relate to the film.

Like the lyrics of “The Message” says about reaching a breaking point, “A midrange migraine, cancered membrane, sometimes I think I’m going insane, I swear I may hijack a plane.”







Todd A. Smith
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