Campy fun rules the day in the home invasion movie “Breaking In,” a garden variety film that offers a slight twist from the typical genre story line. This isn’t one of the best of the class, but the film delivers what it promises and will likely meet all audience expectations (and at times even mildly exceed them). Think of it as a good bad movie.
Following the sudden death of her millionaire father, Shaun (Gabrielle Union) hauls her two kids (Ajiona Alexus, Seth Carr) to the remote countryside to get his giant mansion estate prepared for sale. When the family arrives, they get an unexpected surprise in the form of four bad guys who are in search of a hidden safe that holds boatloads of cash. The house is a virtual fortress that’s designed as a two story panic room and when the baddies hold the children hostage inside, Shaun becomes increasingly desperate as she attempts to break in and rescue her family.
There is little character development or plot that extends beyond the basic premise, but the minimal background information doesn’t hurt the film’s effectiveness. It’s mindless entertainment that’s astoundingly predictable, but it’s also satisfying to see a woman transform into full-on mama bear attack mode to do whatever she can to take down the villains. Even when the story veers into “Home Alone” territory, it’s still a blast to watch as Shaun fights back with whatever everyday object is at hand, be it a broken wine glass, a kitchen knife, or a cigarette lighter.
The performances are far better than they should be, with Union carrying the movie with a convincing fury. Even the two child actors are likeable in their supporting roles. I cared about these people and became emotionally invested in their story at a surprisingly early point in the movie.
Other elements aren’t so great, however. The film feels as if it was pieced together with an awkward timeline and scene breaks, adding to the overall inelegant feel of the filmmaking. The dialogue becomes downright corny, with sneering caricature baddies repeating the same lines over and over in an attempt to either fill time or to remind inattentive audience members of the plot. One character echoes the same warning that the “cops will be here in ninety minutes so the clock is ticking” nearly half a dozen times.
It’s illogical and predictable, but “Breaking In” isn’t a total lame duck.