A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Breaking In is a thriller about a mother (Gabrielle Union) who's trying to protect her children from dangerous robbers in a high-tech home. Expect strong violence, quite a bit of it against women, including beating, punching, throwing. There are also guns and shooting, knives and stabbing/slicing, blood stains/wounds, and deaths. A man is hit by a car, children are in peril, and a teen girl is threatened with possible rape. Language includes one use of "f--k," plus several uses of "s--t" and "bitch." A teen girl is said to have a boyfriend and to be listening to "sex songs." There are a couple of other, brief sex references. An adult drinks wine, and there are very brief allusions to drug use. Union is appealing in the lead role, but unfortunately the movie is just a collection of tired clichés and empty characters.
What's the story?
In BREAKING IN, Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) heads back to her childhood home after the untimely death of her estranged father. She has her children, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr), in tow, to help get the house -- a sprawling, high-tech mansion -- ready to sell. But it's not long before things start to go awry. Soon, four intruders -- led by the unruffled, reasoning Eddie (Billy Burke), but including the psychopathic Duncan (Richard Cabral) -- have taken the children hostage and locked Shaun outside. She catches one of the group and then uses her knowledge of the house to gain the upper hand. But the men have Shaun outnumbered, and she won't be able to deter them from their goal.
Is it any good?
Union is appealing, and Burke's calm simmer is fun, but otherwise this violent home invasion thriller is a dull pack of clichés; not one idea hasn't been used before in 100 other movies. Directed by James McTeigue, Breaking In runs only 88 minutes, and it could have been a quick, snappily paced nail-biter. But instead it feels like the screenplay was once meatier and that some character development was chopped out, leaving just bare-bones traces of deeper characters.
Minimalist characters can be fascinating, of course, but here they are just empty shells. Plus, the screenplay sets up a few sturdy ideas that could have been turned into something if anyone had paid attention to them, such as a 90-minute time limit before the police come to investigate the disrupted alarm, or automatic lights or a drone camera, as established in early scenes of the house. But instead these things are used in a cursory way, with no payoff. Mostly, characters just wander around the giant house, simply appearing in exactly the right (or wrong) place at exactly the right (or wrong) time, with no suspense whatsoever.
Talk to your kids about ...
Do you consider Shaun a role model? Why or why not?
What's the appeal of the home invasion genre? How does this movie compare to others in the genre?
A mother tells her daughter that "it's my job to worry about you; it's not your job to worry about me." Later, an older sibling says the same thing to a younger sibling. Is this true? Why or why not?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.