Every so often, a body needs some calorie rich, sugary, finger-lickingly luscious junk food to escape from the daily starvation diet of Trump and Brexit. And this smartly plotted, fast-paced story of suburban mom turned protective lioness delivers its B movie delights in spades. This isn’t just a case of woman power, but Black Woman power.
Said powerful Black Woman, Shaun (Gabrielle Union) is a typical middle class mom with two sassy kids (dad’s stuck in the office) who has to make the long journey upstate (I assume it’s “upstate” as everything seems to happen there). She’s meeting an estate agent who’ll help her sell her, estranged, father’s country pile.
And what a pile it is: multiple rooms including a panic room, state of the art multi-screen security, bullet proof glass windows further reinforced by remote controlled steel shutters. Oh, and there’s a drone that can glide around the house spying on all and sundry. This is country pile as fantasy fortress.
It also has a vault with $5M in cash. (her dad was up to no good)
And the knowledge of all that cash is ample enough motivation to warrant a break in. It’s potentially a simple enough job for a small team of thieves: break in to an empty house, find the vault, crack it open and steal the money. They’re the typical team of thieves: the soft-spoken leader, Eddie, whose blood has long turned to ice (Billy Burke from the TV series “Zoo”), the experienced lock-smith un-fussed about slicing throats (Mark Furze), the naive ex-con panicked that a simple heist is turning into murder (Levi Meaden from “Pacific Rim:Uprising”) and the truly wild-eyed desperado hungry for blood (Richard Cabral whose entire movie CV is that of killer types).
Why did mom and two kids need to turn up? They’ll just have to deal with them.
From the moment she arrives, bickering kids in tow, all awed by the high tech luxury of the house, mom begins to notice that things aren’t quite right. There’s an empty unwashed coffee cup, a smashed photo and was that a noise in the basement?
All the elements are there to unleash the frenzy of action that follows. No element in the spare plot is irrelevant. No observed object in the home, from the drone to the wonderful surround-sound system to various knives, will not find a small starring role in the unfolding story.
So the (mainly) thought-through plot from writer Ryan Eagle (“The Commuter”, “Rampage”) makes it clear why mom, who’s locked out of the house doesn’t just run to the police, why there are only ninety minutes to get the job done, why the thieves don’t simply kill the kids etc. OK, most moms simply can’t take down four ruthless killers. But hey, you never know. Some moms can simply transform into Jason Bourne when their kids are in danger. And this one in the hands of experienced B movie director James McTeigue (“Survivor”) sure does it in style.
You won’t fall asleep.
Two wonderful pieces of dialog bookend in movie: At the beginning when one of Eddie’s team commits a particularly nasty murder, his take on the mother, Shaun, is prescient: “Shit. Now she’s gone from being a frightened mom to a desperate woman,” he says. “And that’s dangerous”. Her words at the cathartic finale offer a marvellous (if clichéd) wrap-up to it all: “You picked the wrong fucking house to rob”
If you need a quick shot of anti-blues adrenaline, this is the right f-ing movie to see.
It joins a noble list of B movie masterpieces: “No Escape” with Owen Wilson, “Deep Blue Sea” with LL Cool J, “The Foreigner” with Jacky Chan, “Anaconda” with J Lo, “The Shallows” with Blake Lively, and “Run All Night” with Liam Neeson etc.
Of course, in the real world, when the cops arrive and fine four black persons in a wealthy person’s house with five white persons dead…their troubles will only now have begun
BREAKING IN. Dir: James McTeigue, with: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke. Written by: Ryan Engle. Cinematography: Toby Oliver (“Get Out”)