Plot: Shaun (Gabrielle Union) is headed back to the house where she grew up, which she hasn’t been to since she was a teen. Her relationship with her father was estranged to say the least, but since he recently passed on, she needs to settle his affairs and that includes the sale of his house. So she ventures there for the weekend with her two children, to sort out the details of the sale and make sure the house is prepared to be sold. No one seems thrilled about this plan, but it must be done and as such, the trio heads out to take care of business. The house turns out to be a cutting edge fortress of tech, with countless cameras, an advanced safe room, and more high end security features than you could keep track of, which surprises Shaun. What should be a dull weekend takes a dark turn however, when four men show up to rob the house’s safe, only to run into Shaun and her kids. The men take her children hostage and put the house into lockdown mode with Shaun outside, but she manages to fight off one of them in the process. Pushed to the brink and with her kids in harm’s way, can Shaun formulate a plan to keep them safe and fend off the intruders?
Entertainment Value: I love the premise of a bad ass mom going up against a squad of home invaders and Breaking In delivers on the concept, with a tight and twisty thriller that is a lot of fun to watch. The trailer suggested an almost “Die Hard with a Mom” type vibe, but the movie is more grounded than that, with a serious thriller atmosphere and not a wild, over the top action approach. But Shaun is still quite a bad ass, so the movie never disappoints in that respect. The narrative is a simple one, but has some nice twists to keep things interesting and as the movie barrels toward the finale, things ramp up to go out on high notes. I appreciated that some time was taken to establish Shaun and her kids, as well as hint at a dark past for Shaun, one which could explain her dogged resolve and toughness. This means things start off a little slow, but the exposition pays off and once the house is reached, things pick up and once the tension sets in, Breaking In never relents. The tone is serious and while grounded, the movie does throw in twists, fake outs, and such, so things are dialed up at times and that adds to the fun. I had a lot of fun with Breaking In, as it keeps things simple and delivers a rock solid thriller that doesn’t compromise on the premise.
The lead here is Gabrielle Union and she carries the movie with ease, turning in a dynamic, super fun performance. She nails the bad ass mom role from all sides, whether she has to kick ass or show emotion, not to mention those moments when her face alone tells you things are about to get serious. I love melodrama, but I also appreciate that Union reels in her performance here and keeps things serious, as it bolsters the tension and helps keep the tone grounded. Also on point in Breaking In is Billy Burke, who gives us a cold, collected villain that is a great foil for Union’s emotionally charged persona. I like that he also reins in his performance, as he could have easily gone over the top, but instead he takes a more sincere approach. He is given some chances late in the movie to chew scenes a little and he does, so he brings the heat as our villain and really elevates the movie. Richard Cabral and Levi Meaden are also solid as the henchmen, while Ajiona Alexus shines as the strong willed daughter, Jasmine. I know some will find issues with how well Shaun is able to switch into bad ass mode, but given that the entire premise is bad ass mom versus home invaders, you have to expect that. I had a blast with the movie and I think it earns a high recommendation.