Breaking In

 

starstarstarhalf

 

 

A generic thriller from James McTeigue delivers the goods in a slim but gripping package.

 

Breaking In

The mother of revenge: Gabrielle Union and Levi Meaden 

  

The trick is to keep quiet. If they can’t hear you, they can’t find you – and kill you.

 

It would take an amateur to bungle a premise like this. A fiercely maternal woman and her two kids are trapped inside a house with four intruders. Early on, the would-be thieves show little respect for human life – or for other people’s property. We know to fear them. The extra dimension is the house itself, a high-tech fortress that can keep you in as well as keep you out. The rest hinges on the dynamic between the burglars and their prey.

 

It is perhaps a mistake to jump-start the action so soon – the viewer has barely had time to absorb the set-up, let alone to invest in the family that we are meant to care for. This, then, is a no-frills affair, albeit with plenty of thrills. Billy Burke, as the menacing engine of the break-in, recalls a younger Billy Bob Thornton and his ex-con is not a man to mess with. He is smart, and also ruthless, knowing that the human cost of his crime is now unavoidable. The fly in his ointment, Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union), is no dummy, either. She may not be as tech-savvy as her kids, but she has a practical know-how and is fearless when it comes to protecting her own. She is the motherly equivalent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Steven Seagal in Under Siege – the single (and invincible) bug in the plan. Besides, a rabbit running for its life runs faster than the fox that is hungry.

 

Inevitably, there are lapses in credibility, but this is a thriller designed to push all the buttons installed on its dashboard. As that, it exerts an appropriate grip for much of its streamlined running time and, in its way, delivers another uppercut for female empowerment.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Jason George, Seth Carr, Mark Furze, Damien Leake.

 

Dir James McTeigue, Pro Gabrielle Union, James Lopez, Craig Perry, Sheila Hanahan Taylor and Will Packer, Screenplay Ryan Engle, from a story by Jaime Primak Sullivan, Ph Toby Oliver, Pro Des Cece Destefano, Ed Joseph Jett Sally, Music Johnny Klimek.

 

Will Packer Productions/Practical Pictures-Universal Pictures.

88 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 11 May 2018. Cert. 15.