by Hope Madden
Breaking In—the latest in a line of Liam Neeson movies—sees a desperate parent doing whatever it takes to save their tender offspring.
This time around Gabrielle Union plays Liam Neeson. Well, she plays Shaun, a woman who’s brought her two children with her to her recently-deceased father’s wooded property to get the place ready to sell. Problem is, somebody’s already there.
Shaun suddenly finds herself in the situation of trying to save her children from the men who’ve come to rob her late father’s safe.
The film was penned by Ryan Engle, who’s written two of Neeson’s own Liam Neeson movies (Non-Stop, The Commuter). The man likes a formula.
Union convinces as the family’s level-headed, savvy matriarch.
She’s locked out of her dead father’s tech-dense fortress while her kids are locked in with baddies. The clock is ticking until the cut phone cable brings the cops. Shaun’s indeterminate experiences at her shady father’s secluded property have apparently better prepared her for this event than the villains would have expected.
There could be something here.
Though little more than a mishmash of domestic thriller clichés, still, with a bit of style and a little creativity, it could make for a tense and brisk 90 minutes.
If only the bad guys moved quickly, as if they were working against a timer. Show a little urgency, fellas.
Or if all that tech—the cameras, the motion-sensor lights, the door locks—worked consistently rather than conveniently.
Or if director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) brought any style to the project. Any at all.
Home invasion movies can become pressure cookers of tension and diabolical possibility. Too bad McTeigue has no idea how to exploit any of the tenser elements Engle gives him, nor does he have the skill to draw your attention away from any of the gaping holes littered throughout this plot.
Union’s fighting against more than seedy criminals.