Review – Home invasion thriller ‘Breaking In’ fails to subvert conventions

Luke Stevenson is one of the hosts of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast. He is only serious about Bee Movie.

Poster for 2018 home invasion thriller Breaking In

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 11th May 2018
Runtime: 88 minutes
Director: James McTeigue
Writer: Ryan Engle
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Levi Meaden, Richard Cabral, Mark Furze, Ajiona Alexus, Seth Carr
Synopsis: When a gang of thieves break into her maximum security home, a defiant mother must fight back in order to protect her children against the money-hungry thugs.



There’s a rather sad realisation you inevitably come to when you’re watching Breaking In. Eventually you realise that its semi-interesting twist on the home invasion genre – in this circumstance, a mother is trying to break into her own house to rescue her kids – is the only thing that’s really interesting about it at all.

Gabrielle Union stars as Shaun, who is in the process of selling her recently deceased father’s house. She takes her two children, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr), along for the ride as they check out the incredibly luxurious, fortress-like home that seems to be fitted with every security system known to man. However, this simple trip is disturbed by the arrival of Billy Burke’s Eddie – a criminal who has heard that Shaun’s shady father had stashed $4m in the house. He is supported by the bloodthirsty Duncan (Richard Cabral), inside man Sam (Levi Meaden) and safe-cracker Peter (Mark Furze).

Despite its twist on the format, which begins when Shaun is forced outside by the invaders, every other aspect of Breaking In is solidly conventional work from V For Vendetta director James McTeigue. Its invader characters fit into nice archetypes, from the calm boss with a bubbling edge to the guilt-ridden younger one, the murderous one and the incompetent one.

Interesting ideas, such as a promising establishing sequence that lays out the house and all of the different ways it could be used in the rest of the movie, bring very little fruit. The first act meticulously describes what the house contains, giving it the early promise of a Paranormal Activity-style movie with numerous elements and ways this could pan out, but it’s wasted. Instead, the movie focuses on the relative luck of the victims and the incompetence of the invaders.

Characterisation is left outside with Shaun, with hints at her relationship with her father never unfurled in any meaningful way, and the kids don’t have much to give their sequences any extra heft. The performances are weak too. While Union is trying very hard and the kids do solid work, no one in this movie feels like they aren’t performing for cameras. Billy Burke is particularly limited, providing little to no threat as the supposedly sinister lead, and Cabral’s psychopathic supporting role is so caricatured and familiar that it’s hard to take any serious threat from what he’s presenting.

Ultimately, Breaking In is a poor home invasion movie that is light on threat, character and originality. It’s limited by the talent at every level of the film – the direction is tensionless, the acting weak and the script very safe. As a result, this is a film that struggles to break out of its cramped setting to be something memorable.


Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

Despite the promise of a claustrophobic environment and the subversion presented by a woman forced to be the invader herself in order to rescue her children, Breaking In emerges as a limp and unoriginal movie. James McTeigue brings nothing new to the table and every character slots neatly into pre-existing caricatures and archetypes.


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