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Movie Review: Gabrielle Union Overcomes Predictability in 'Breaking In'

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Universal Pictures)


Predictable But Still Intense 


In “Breaking In” on an early and comfortable Chicago morning, an “old school player” named Isaac (Damien Leake) in gym clothes places his headphones on and picks his favorite old school jam to listen to.

Isaac embarks on his morning jog on Dearborn Street without a care in the world.

Just when he gets into his groove, Isaac, a pedestrian, gets blindsided by an automobile.

As he gasps for breath and fights to stay alive, the driver of the vehicle that violently collides with him on the street walks over to him.

However, instead of assisting the dying man or seeking out help, the driver kicks the old man in the head to make sure that he dies.

A man that meets such a violent demise obviously has enemies.

But no matter how many enemies a person has, that person still has family and loved ones.

“Breaking In” starring Gabrielle Union (“Being Mary Jane”) and co-produced by Will Packer (“Think Like a Man”), Union and others, intensely shows how danger can show up on the doorsteps of a person’s innocent loved ones because of the sins of someone else.

In “Breaking In,” Shaun Russell (Union) never had much of a relationship with her affluent father.

Shaun’s father had become so successful financially that he had a home in Chicago as well as an estate consisting of many acres in rural Wisconsin, complete with horses and all of the latest technology.

However, when Shaun’s father dies suddenly, instead of enjoying her inheritance, she desires to sell her father’s sprawling estate because of all of the negative memories she experienced there as a young child.

Despite all of the negative experiences, Shaun has to return to the sprawling Wisconsin estate with her children Glover (Seth Carr, “Black Panther”) and Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus, “Empire”) to meet with a real estate agent in order to put the house on the market for sale.

To make matters more uncomfortable, Shaun has to spend the entire weekend at the lonely estate, as Glover calls it, without her husband, Justin (Jason George, “Eve”) who has to remain in the city for work.

What should be a simple weekend of business transactions turns into a fight for the family’s lives in “Breaking In.”

Because Shaun’s father had so many enemies, he had the most intricate security at the Wisconsin home.

Although it is hard for intruders to break into the home, it is also easy for people to get locked out of the home.

Rumor has it that Shaun’s father had a safe in the Wisconsin home with $4 million in it.

Although Shaun, Jasmine and Glover are totally unaware what is or is not in the house, what is for sure is that the Russell family is not alone in the house.

Burglars want the $4 million desperately.

Like many burglars, the robbers in “Breaking In” choose a time to break into the old man’s house when they are confident that the home is uninhabited.

But when they stumble upon a family inside the house, their mission of robbery might turn into a violent mission, especially when the burglars capture Jasmine and Glover while Shaun is locked outside of the home.

“Breaking In” presents a dilemma for Shaun and a dilemma for the burglars.

Shaun must find a way back into the home before the intruders harm her daughter and her son.

And the intruders must find that safe and the $4 million before Shaun finds a way back into the house or goes out looking for help from law enforcement officials.

From the title “Breaking In,” moviegoers will already know what route Shaun takes in order to protect her children.

“Breaking In” does fall into the predictable category of many thrillers. 


But that fact does not prevent it from becoming a thrilling movie.

The thrills and chills come from Union mostly, and to a lesser degree her co-stars Alexus and Carr.

Union’s intensity can only be described as a mother’s love and determination to save her children.

Her performance is in the same vain as Halle Berry’s performance in “Kidnap.”

But unlike Berry, Union has mastered the art of facial expressions.

Not to say that Berry does not use facial expressions to get her point across in absence of dialogue, but Union has turned facial expressions into an art form.

Union’s looks of fear, anger, determination, love and confusion tell a complete story without the need for words.

She is strong, demanding and persistent as Shaun in “Breaking In.”

If one has never seen one woman take down multiple male thugs to save her family members’ lives, then “Breaking In” is a must-see movie.

Not going unnoticed is the superb casting of “Breaking In” and not just from a performance standpoint.

Casting Alexus, who plays the young Cookie Lyon on the late night Fox soap opera “Empire,” was brilliant because Alexus definitely looks like she can be Union’s daughter.

Alexus looks like Union’s mini-me.

Furthermore, the casting of White and Latino thugs to play opposite a rich African-American family should not go unnoticed either.

The filmmakers behind “Breaking In” never mention race in the film and they did not have to.

For decades, many Hollywood movies stereotypically portrayed African-Americans and Latinos as thugs and criminals, while casting the affluent characters with White actors.

However, “Breaking In” shows that in reality, affluence comes in all colors, as do thugs and criminals.

Hopefully, Hollywood continues to acknowledge that reality in future films and television shows.

Nevertheless, “Breaking In” is the typical and predictable suspense film.

The outcome is never in question, but that is not the point.

The film succeeds because of the intensity, pain and violence that the Russell family experiences.

And the lengths a mother will go to in order to protect her babies from harm.

“Breaking In” also succeeds because of Union, the actress.


Union has long been a breakout star and “Breaking In” just further solidifies herself as an A-list actress and a favorite actress to many “old school players” who continue to love her work on the small screen and the big screen.






This article was published on Friday 11 May, 2018.
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