Film review: Breaking In is a forgettable home-invasion thriller

Mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SARKIS/UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SARKIS/UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Along with Coralie Fargeat’s feature-length debut Revenge, James McTeige’s Breaking In is the latest female led, hard-bitten thriller to grace cinema screens this month.

Mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SARKIS/UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SARKIS/UNIVERSAL PICTURES

The film focuses on Shaun (Gabrielle Union) who, along with her children Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr) travels to her estranged, deceased father’s house to prepare it for sale. On their arrival the house is quickly besieged by a group of criminals intent on stealing a fortune hidden in the estate.

With its singular location, fractured families, wealthy deceased pensioners and menacing villains Breaking In shares much of its DNA with David Fincher’s far superior Panic Room (2002).

What made that film so gripping was that all the characters were fully formed, three-dimensional individuals who left an indelible mark on the screen; here the protagonists and antagonists are so bogged down by expositional dialogue and heavy-handed monologues that Union and the rest of the talented cast struggle to make an impression.

Worse is Ryan Engle’s implausible and frankly laughable screenplay, close scrutiny of which reveals a multitude of aggravating, interminable plot-holes impossible to ignore.

Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SA

Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and mom Shaun (Gabrielle Union) in the film, "Breaking In." Picture: PAUL SARKIS/UNIVERSAL PICTURES


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The director does his best to keep the proceedings engaging with a number of over-cranked, occasionally well-executed set-pieces – Shaun’s rooftop confrontation with snarling ex-con Duncan (Richard Cabral) and the conflicted Sam (Levi Madden) is a highlight – but these sequences are not enough to raise it above a dull, sporadically entertaining and forgettable home-invasion thriller.

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