Breaking In

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Breaking In Movie Poster Image
Violent home invasion thriller is mostly boring clichés.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Main message seems to be that moms are tough and not to be trifled with, which is hard to dispute.

Positive Role Models & Representations

If this were a smarter movie, Shaun -- a clever, strong, and persistent woman of color who's a good mom -- would have been a terrific role model. But unfortunately her actions are reduced to the mechanics required to make a poor thriller function, and she takes a great deal of punching and beating, too.


Guns and shooting. Characters are killed. Woman are beaten, punched, thrown by men. Other characters are beaten. A man is hit by a truck. Head-stomping. Character stabbed/sliced with knives, broken glass, etc. Some blood stains/wounds shown. Teen girl hit/threatened; threat of rape. Children in peril. Characters fall down a hill/from high places. Reference to a man being "on his knees in the shower stall" while in jail.


Reference to a teen girl having a boyfriend and listening to "sex songs." Reference to a man "banging" a woman.


A use of "f--k," plus several uses of "s--t," "bitch," "freakin'," "hell," "ass," "goddamn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).


Nike jacket briefly shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult drinks a glass of wine. Reference to a character being a "tweaker." A character has a length of rubber hose in his pocket; possibly drug paraphernalia, but not confirmed.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 14-year-old Written byJanice X. May 20, 2018

An okay movie.

I am the mother of a 14-year-old, we went to see it together and the movie was great at the beginning. It was somewhat cliche, but it wasn't too over the t... Continue reading
Adult Written byMMomOfTwo August 19, 2020

Good movie, lots of violence

Movie contained a lot more violence than I was anticipating after reading the reviews and ratings - otherwise it was a good movie. Definitely wouldn’t recommen... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 16, 2020

Pretty Good

This movie is a good movie for teens 13+ to watch. Is basically about a mother who takes her kids to a nice house. Basically robbers break into the house and ar... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bybookworm3284 October 12, 2018

Fun thriller, light on blood.

This is a fast paced thriller, that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. There is no gore, but some blood with a couple of stabbi... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Breaking In's violence. Is it meant to be exciting or shocking? How can you tell? How does the fact that much of it is directed toward women affect its impact?

  • 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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrillers

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