The opening of Breaking In is quite simplistic, even though you don’t think it would be at first, when we witness a ton of strange guns before this elder goes out for a run. Before he’s hit and assassinated by an unknown face. It’s then safe to assume this was the father of Shaun Russell, played by Gabrielle Union, who owned this old but very technological farmhouse that she and her two kids are moving to for a while. Apparently there are marital problems between Shaun and her husband Justin. With this being the house that Shaun first grew up in, she’s trying to handle the tough nostalgia and making sure her kids Jasmine and Seth are semi-happy. Before someone emerges from the bushes and chases after Shaun with the intent to kill her. Meanwhile, three others break into the house, take the kids hostage and activate the house’s advanced security system to lock her out. And now she has to rescue them before the burglars have no more use for them, and without doing anything that could provoke them - in their noticing.
James McTeigue is most famous for directing V for Vendetta, released back in 2006, but I haven’t seen that. Instead I’ve seen his other recent thriller, Survivor, with Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich, which I originally gave an A+ to and then subconsciously changed to an A. So when I heard he was coming out with another movie, also critically panned but this time with another woman protagonist of colour, I knew I wasn’t going to pass it up. And I’ll say this right out of the way: It’s a bit pretentious and maybe too hi-tech and try-hard to stand mighty among the better independent home-invasion claustrophobia thrillers. But it’s better than a lot of other movies that take place in the bare carbon night because of post-average performances and a clear good intention.
There isn’t a horror movie I can think of, except maybe mother! and Rings that hasn’t kept my attention during the second act, and this is not an exception. Like the other horror movies, I wasn’t sure who was going to die, and I wasn’t sure if the final act would end up beneficial for the good side or bad side. But I kind of unfortunately got the impression this wouldn’t be the most twisted thing ever, and I was kind of right. Thankfully, one of the intruders named Sam, is an interesting enough villain to make me care if he was going to die, go to jail, or escape. While he may be a little conventional, he manages to encapsulate a lot of different people, and you can sort of see him as yourself if you ever had to commit a crime to survive. I’m not saying he’s innocent, but you want to know what’s going on in his head.
My favourite part of the movie I think involves near the beginning when Shaun is chased into the woods. We don't know how experienced this person is with assassinating people, and as he advances on her in the dead of night, while she's hiding around places where there are load leaves, twigs, maybe even poison ivy, a place where a single twitch could give you away, I imagined myself in that situation for a few seconds and reminded myself that some people have had to go through this at least once in their lives. The silence, and night setting in the woods was very effective.
This is a movie that, while forgettable and definitely feels like a videogame, at least lets you imagine the possibilities if you could play the game for yourself. It won’t scare you to death but it is very good for mothers and people who feel their parents are just out to bug them.
And let’s get something straight before this review ends: The youngest white intruder is not the worst ever, but the tattooed Mexican is vile. Some might see that as offensive, so it helps the family under hostage is black. But I kind of dislike even putting the forever-repeating controversy of race in my review. If you watch this movie, I suggest you just look past it. No one is out there saying this movie is a painting of a particular group or culture.