In the ’90s, Breaking In would have been greenlit in a heartbeat with the one sentence logline, “It’s Die Hard with a mom.” Somehow, I doubt studio execs still get excited over that description nowadays. Still, here we are, celebrating Mother’s Day with a mom thriller. Mother-of-two Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) must prepare her sketchy dad’s house to be sold after he is suspiciously killed while jogging in the movie’s cold open. Unsurprisingly, a quartet of bad dudes, led by TV stalwart Billy Burke as Eddie, are looking for a hidden safe filled with $4 million, and they hold Shaun’s teenage daughter and younger son hostage in her bad dad’s fortress of a home. (You may have heard of a panic room; Shaun’s dad has a panic house.)
I love me some Burke, and he gets to show off his excellent weary routine thanks to a boringly programmed crew of villainous nobodies. Still, one wonders if Eddie is not the truly incompetent one for hiring such a woeful wild bunch. What starts as a stylishly taut pulp exercise—the cast list checks in at 10 actors—grows flabby before it even hits 90 minutes, and this running time includes the most noticeably long, pre-credit fade to black. The last act grows so desperate as to begin repeating itself; the climax has a climax. The movie’s desperation to hit an hour and a half almost becomes as tangible as Shaun’s need to save her kids. Neither can match the audience’s desire to escape the theater, though.
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