Breaking In gets off to a promising start with a violent scene before the title. It’s even got the makings of a fun twist on the premise of trying to escape a home invasion. Don’t get your hopes up though.
Breaking In is terrible.
Shawn (Gabrielle Union) is selling her father’s house after his death. While in his remote fortified home with her kids Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr), Eddie (Billy Burke) and his gang come to rob her father’s safe. Shawn is trapped outside when the criminals get in and turn on the security barricades, so she actually has to break back in to save her kids.
When they first arrive, Shawn and the kids walk through the house to establish the geography and all the high tech toys they’ll play with later. Glover flies a (very fake looking) drone around the house and discovers the security computer room. The window shields never really pay off, but the rest do.
There are some jump scares when Eddie and the gang take the kids, and Shawn proves to be a good fighter when Peter (Mark Furze) comes after her. Their fight goes on and on like the evil dead coming after Ash, with some blood courtesy of her improvised weapons. Then all the potential disappears. In fact, it falls off a cliff.
As soon as Eddie and his cronies Sam (Levi Meaden) and Duncan (Richard Cabral) start talking, their dialogue is so stupid it’s impossible to take them seriously, let alone be afraid of them. Eddie says fricking. What kind of fucking bad guy says fricking?
Well, the PG-13 rating should concern you as there is a distinct lack of blood in violent acts like throat slitting and stabbing. Perhaps they used up the violence in the first fight. Still, a home invasion thriller can generate plenty of dread with the threat of violence even if it can’t show it.
Breaking In has no threat or drive.
Which brings us back to the villains. Okay, so Sam and Duncan are ex-cons Eddie found to help him. I get that lowlife convicts don’t have a way with words. In fact, their frustrations in expressing themselves probably led them to lash out violently. If I were faced with a violent ex-con, I would not mock his dialogue.
But from the safety of a movie theater, these guys are laughable. Sam kicks the bed in frustration and barely knocks the cushions on the floor. They say things like “It wasn’t supposed to go down like this” which they probably heard in other movies. Duncan is the cliche wild card who gets way too violent too fast. Sam is the cliche criminal with a heart of gold who doesn’t want to hurt the family. Neither seem like any match for Shawn, nor does Eddie.
The dialogue is so bad that a new arrival in the third act asks Eddie, “Who are you? What do you want?” While a real person might need to be caught up, this is useless after we’ve already heard about and seen their plan for an hour.
The movie does Shawn few favors though as she begins to create distractions that should not distract the trio inside the house. She has one good ploy with the circuit breakers that ends up having no impact on the plot whatsoever. By the time she’s running around the halls or woods outside, it looks ridiculous, like she’s just playing hide and seek with the bad guys. For an impenetrable fortress, she gets back in pretty easily too.
There’s no mood in the house at all. It gets dark, it gets light again, it turns red at one point, but it’s all drab. The villains keep shining flashlights directly into the camera too. That does not look good.
Then there is just twist after twist long after you stop caring.
It’s as misguided as the initial premise. They had the good idea of a reverse home invasion where the victim had to break in, but couldn’t pull off what exactly is keeping her out and why. They had some good ideas for the end but never figured out how to set up the rest of the movie so that they would matter.
Breaking In is so awkward that there is even an uncomfortably long pause between the fade to black and end credits. Like, are we waiting for an epilogue? Is it over yet? Could you not just cut 2 seconds of black screen out?
It’s unfortunate. Gabrielle Union deserves a badass heroine vehicle. Frankly, summer moviegoers deserve it too. Breaking In cut a good trailer, like someone in a post house knew what a good movie looked like, but eventually, the actual movie reveals itself.