Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Dumb Crooks vs. Resourceful Mother

Breaking In (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Well heeled and well preserved Isaac (Damien Leake) places a silver chronometer on his black wrist before hitting the suburban streets for his daily jog. Crossing the street he's struck by an SUV but good. Protests an audience member, “He looked both ways.” We watch a below-the-waist shot of the driver getting out of his vehicle and walking back to investigate. The voice from the audience updates us, “He stomped on him.” Yes, and to coin a phrase, ‘Black lives splatter.’

Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) drives with her two children teenaged boy-magnet Jasmine “Jas” (Ajiona Alexus) and her whiny younger brother Glover “Glov” (Seth Carr) to Beautiful Lake House set amidst 25 acres of woods in Lake Constance, Wisconsin. She needs to work this week­end on settling her late father's “lonely” estate. The security system displays “System Reset / Please check connection.” Some­thing is not right.

Glover's impressed that, “This place is built like a fortress.” When mom steps out­side, she is chased by a would-be abductor, an ex-military man Pete (Mark Furze), into the woods. The two kids are snatched by three crooks inside: their ruthless leader Eddie (Billy Burke), a psycho Mexican gang-banger Duncan (Richard Cabral), and blond & jumpy Sam (Levi Maeden).

Soon pulling up outside comes Shaun's realtor Maggie Harris (Christa Miller) with papers to sign. She's met at the door by a white stranger passing him­self off as Shaun's friend “Paul”, telling her that Shaun has gone into town to buy groceries, inviting her in to wait. To Maggie's query why then is her car still here, he says it had engine trouble so he leant her his.

Alarm bells go off in Maggie's head. It's not unheard of for a realtor to encounter mischief at a house she manages. These are upscale houses that were off limits to blacks until the courts forced their acceptance in the 1960s & '70s. Suddenly the whites are letting them drive around in their cars? DWB (Driving While Black.) Competing with her suspicion is her sensitivity training against unconscious biases. Her fate hangs in the balance.

The DA had been preparing to indict Shaun's father Isaac. He got wind of it and liquidated his assets worth $4 million. Sam learned this from his assistant. The thieves figure the old man has it stashed in a safe some­where. They were looking for it when the family arrived. Eddie tells Shaun, “You are a mother alone at the mercy of strangers. Your greatest weakness is locked in this house with us.” She shows surprising strength prowling the perimeter, climbing the house, running here and there, up to something.

She takes after her African-American father who kept fit with regular jogging. She wears the same kind of watch. Eddie is impressed. “She's the old man's daughter,” he says. “That's bad luck.” When she gets a chance to communicate with Jas, she tells her, “You're strong; you're smart; you're my daughter; you can do this.” In fact Jas is her­self acrobatic crawling through a duct space, and she keeps her­self trim for the boys. It's reminiscent of a line from a Paul Beatty story: “I just don't want my son's integrity as a strong black man compro­mised. We must ensure the boy develops him­self as a black man, a descendent of African aristocracy, the southern working class, and some hellified Brooklyn niggers who took no shorts” (108). We see this embodiment of Shaun's heritage as she's running stealthily through the woods, climbing fence and house like a monkey, and staring back with a jungle-invisible black face from the tree line, like a cunning feral cat.

Nerdy Glov for his part seems to take more after his father. Shaun's husband Justin Russell (Jason George) wears a coat & tie and works in an office, presumably staring at computer screens all day. When he arrives at the house, all he can focus on is what's in the window. He has no animal instinct or awareness of his surroundings. The best we can hope for him and his son is they stay out of the way. In contemporary parlance, he's what would be called an OREO: black on the out­side, white on the inside.


Eddie recruited his crew “in county,” where Sam made a poor career choice (Prov. 1:10.) There was the incentive of a big score (Prov. 1:11-14.) The violence was supposed to be limited, but it didn't turn out that way (Prov. 1:15-19), and their own lives were jeopardized as well. (Prov. 1:19) “So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.”

Maggie the real estate agent could stand a lesson in (Sirach 9:13) “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill; so shalt thou not doubt the fear of death: and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently: remember that thou goest in the midst of snares, and that thou walkest upon the battlements of the city.” The stranger in the house was bad news. Maggie was in danger of being snared should she come inside. The DWB alerted her to use caution, but she seemed to be torn between getting out of there post­haste and going in despite her misgivings. I suppose she didn't want to succumb to her unconscious biases.

Pete was to become a hostage to the desperate mama who wanted to trade him to the crooks who had her children. Pete was their man whom they needed to open the safe. And yet Pete might have been better off with the mad mama than with those fools he teemed up with. (Prov. 17:12) “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.”

Production Values

This thriller, “” was directed by James McTeigue. It was written by Ryan Engle. It stars Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, and Richard Cabral. Gabrielle Union did really well playing an average mom in a bind. We care about her from the get-go. The thieves came across pretty well, quirks and all. Richard Cabral's crazy character was enough by him­self to keep us on our toes. Ajiona Alexus shows her­self a great actress playing a teenage girl. Seth Carr did good acting in the role of little brother, but with so many cute kids available, why did they pick one with such an ugly mug? He also had lazy diction making him hard to under­stand—fortu­nately, his lines were few.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for violence, menace, bloody images, sexual references and brief strong language. The bad guys were more realistically pathetic than made to order super crooks. In terms of thrills it's more a Ferris wheel than a roller coaster. The natural setting of the estate is a nice touch. It's good that the movie doesn't drag on too long; there's enough to resolve in its short 1½ hour allotment. Directing's a hard job. I look at this as a learning experience for the man rather than a spring­board to any prizes.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I'm pretty easy to please, and I liked the droll snub to political correctness. Beyond that, it's pretty so-so, but some movies are that way. Every one of them cannot be a tour de force. It keeps well within the confines of its PG–13 rating.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.

Beatty, Paul. Tuff. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Print.