Film Review: Breaking In

Director James McTeigue’s action thriller Breaking In is undemanding, but does not offer too much in return. The film is entertaining yet flawed. 

Shaun Russell takes her children to sort out her late father’s house in the countryside, ahead of its sale. When a crew attempt to rob the house, Shaun must find a way to save her children…

Written by Ryan Engle (Non-Stop, The Commuter) Breaking In has a concept that could be described as Die Hard in a house. The set up is fairly swift, moving the narrative quickly on to the action. This is generally a good thing, although it means there is some clunky exposition. Action in the film is decently executed, although viewers may hope for some more memorable set pieces than Breaking In provides. In the set up, an advanced security system is depicted, yet the callbacks to this are not in any way smart. 

Pacing in the film is good; director McTeigue manages to create a palpable tension at certain points. Nevertheless, the ending feels protracted, which is unusual for a film of this genre and duration. It seems the film has reached its conclusion, yet it continues for a further couple of scenes, which extinguishes the hitherto strong tautness.

The film places a strong emphasis on the fact that the protagonist is a female and a mother. Whilst Breaking In is different in this respect – after all, it is frequently the case in action thrillers that the father rescues the family – screenwriter Engle makes it pointed. There are several remarks made about Shaun being a formidable woman, and this feels like totally unnecessary signposting. The audience can see she is a mother (and not also a trained fighter), and it feels like the filmmakers are patting themselves on the back with these comments. Some of the rest of the dialogue is hackneyed, which serves Richard Cabral’s stereotyped villain rather poorly. Other performances are good; Gabrielle Union is believable in her lead role, doing enough to make viewers root for her.

Breaking In is a decent film for those in the mood for switched-off, undemanding viewing. For those wanting more, the film will be a disappointment.

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