Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 18, 2018

Critic's Corner: 'Breaking In' shows just how bad a movie can be

Given the number of movies made each year, you’d think there would be enough good ones to go around. One or two decent films per weekend out of the several hundred movies now being released each year shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Then again, maybe it would be, as certain weekends appear to be serving as dumping grounds for the worst new films. Last weekend was one such cinematic cesspool, with both major new releases coming in at well below 50 percent on the Tomatometer.

The film that scored the highest (41 percent) was “Life of the Party,” a comedy in which Melissa McCarthy refers to her vagina as a search engine called V-Google and proceeds to demonstrate. The fact that this scene is in the trailer indicates that someone thought it would be enough to entice me to spend nine bucks to see the entire movie on a big screen.

My other choice for this column was “Breaking In,” a thriller in which a mother fights to save herself and her offspring from bad men who are after a bag of money.

The Tomatometer score for “Breaking In” was a dismal 27 percent. Now, I make up my own mind about films and often find myself at odds with the critical consensus. For example, I thought “I Feel Pretty” was funny, sweet and socially relevant, but the Tomatometer score of 33 percent indicated I was in the minority.

Still, I felt leery stepping up to the window and buying a ticket to see “Breaking In.” The lady in line ahead of me nearly convinced me to see “Sunset Boulevard,” which Fathom Events was showing last weekend. I’ve never seen it, and I believe it’s required viewing for anyone who claims to love movies.

But I talked myself out of it, believing I needed to see a new film, and bought a ticket for “Breaking In.” My only consolation is that I can hopefully convince you to avoid it.

The movie opens with a wealthy man putting on an expensive watch and then going running. After he’s hit by a van, someone steps out of the vehicle and then onto his head, finishing the job.

Clearly, the rich man kept bad company, as we learn during a hilariously overwritten phone conversation between the dead man’s daughter, Shaun, and her husband. Within 30 seconds of saying “Hello,” the husband has explained his wife’s life history to her – because that’s how people talk in the real world.

I was thankful for the clumsy, lazy writing because it mitigated my expectations for what was to come, which means I wasn’t as disappointed as I would have been had I been looking forward to seeing a movie with originality, personality, or real thrills.

Not long after Shaun and her two kids arrive at her father’s mansion to settle his estate, four criminals show up to retrieve a gym bag containing over $4 million from a safe. They weren’t expecting company but came armed to the teeth anyway and are none too happy to have unexpected guests.

After the story is set in motion, audiences get 90 minutes of inane thriller clichés stitched together like a supercut YouTube video of George Clooney nodding on “ER.” (I used this example because my wife is binging “ER” and the guy looks like a bobblehead version of himself in many of his scenes.)

There are boring sequences of people tiptoeing down hallways and through rooms, bad guys appearing from out of frame to surprise people when it would have been obvious they were in the room, improbable escapes, unlikely resurrections and more – all done with the visual panache of a Lifetime movie of the week.

On top of this, the actor who plays the ringleader, Billy Burke, seems to sleepwalk through his performance.

The one bright spot in this dull, predictable “thriller” is actress Gabrielle Union, whose performance is not only believable but also elevates the scenes the writing and directing don’t completely wreck.

Union is really good in this. It’s as though she knew “Breaking In” was B-movie pap but decided to go for an Oscar anyway.

As I said, there are times when I like a film many critics detest. But it appears there are also times when I dislike a film others love. I’m not one to judge, but I was surprised when several people in the audience shouted and cheered during the film’s climax.

All I could do was roll my eyes and wish I’d not talked myself out of seeing “Sunset Boulevard.”