Unrated Dir: James McTeague | Universal | 1h 28min
Plot: What’s it about?
Time sure flies. It seems like just yesterday that I went to see Breaking In in theaters and here it’s being released on Blu-ray. Despite a familiar premise, the film is actually a very lean and effective home invasion thriller led by a strong performance from Gabrielle Union. It was released shortly after another film featuring a home invasion called Traffik. The two films really aren’t all that similar, but I feel that Breaking In is the more effective of the two. I think that’s largely because it doesn’t try to bite off more than it can chew. We’re given our quick setup and intro to the few characters then the film pretty much stays out of their way for the rest of its short running time. It may very well evaporate from your memory when the end credits roll, but you’ll probably get your thrills in by that time.
The opening moments we see a man getting ready for his morning jog. Within moments, he’s murdered. We then see Shaun Russel (Union) and her daughter Jasmine and son Seth driving to his house for the weekend. They’re going to sort things and get it ready to be put on the market. Sounds like a pretty simple weekend, right? Well not exactly, because we learn that four robbers want what’s inside the safe in this house. The four criminals are: Peter (Mark Furze), Sam (Levi Meaden), Duncan (Richard Cabral) and head criminal, and Eddie (Billy Burke). We learn that the safe holds $4 million and that’s all the criminals want. Shaun manages to escape the house, but her two children are inside. There’s a scuffle with one of the criminals, and eventually it comes down to threats back and forth. Matters become complicated when the body count rises. Eddie does his best at keeping matters under control, insisting he only wants the money and will spare their lives.
If you’ve seen only a few home invasion thrillers in your life you still might be able to figure out how things play out, but I found this to still provide enough thrills that I didn’t care too much. Not all of the acting from the criminals is great, but Billy Burke does great work. He’s more stern than your average movie villain here in that he simply wants the money and wants to leave. For the most part, the victims don’t make too many foolish decisions here either. Modern technology plays a big part in this as the home security system gives an upper hand to some of the characters at various times throughout the film. With a simple setup, brisk running time and a couple of good performances, Breaking In should please those wanting a small diversion. This disc includes an unrated cut of the film that seemed to have a bit more blood and profanity. It feels less restricted than the PG-13 theatrical version, making it the obvious version when choosing.
Video: How’s it look?
Most of the film is set inside the house and at night, but things still look quite good. The opening moments showcase strong visuals, with the background scenery coming through in full force. Blood splatter, among other things is nicely detailed and natural looking as well. The print has a pristine look that we can expect from such a recent film making this a satisfying image all around. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.39:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Also solid is the DTS HD track which keeps things busy and active throughout. The vocals are crisp, but the action is what steps things up here. There’s a good balance throughout, with gunshots and other things taking center stage. It really brings us into the environment making this a nice companion to the film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle – A pretty straight-forward, yet insightful commentary from McTeigue and Engle. Details about the shoot, casting and some various problems are all included.
- Alternate Opening –The Gas Station with Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle.
- One Bad Mother – Gabrielle Union shows that there is no limit to what a threatened mother will do to keep her children safe, and why a woman on a mission should never be underestimated.
- A Filmmaker’s Eye – The crew explores what makes Director James McTeigue’s vision and style uniquely valuable when it comes to creating the right mood for the film.
- A Lesson in Kicking Ass – A behind-the-scenes look at how physically demanding the role of Shaun was for Gabrielle Union, and the steps production took to ensure the most convincing execution of the stunts throughout the film.
- A Hero Evolved – An inspiring account of how leading roles are shifting to embrace the qualities that more diverse actors can bring to the table.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
The Bottom Line
In this age of remakes and superhero films, Breaking In at least attempts something different. Sometimes these home invasion films can only do so much to elevate well-worn material, but I found the film to be effective and maintained my interest. At the very least it’s worth a rental.