If you try and take Breaking In too seriously, you may be disappointed. But if you can sit back and enjoy a bit of “mama bear in defense of her cubs” action, then Gabrielle Union’s fiery mother rescuing her kids from Billy Burke’s creepy but inept house robber may be the popcorn fodder you need from Redbox or streaming on Demand. But you’ve seen this before with Jodie Foster in reverse, that is, Panic Room.
It’s begging for a line like “This woman is one bad mother.” Or, “there’s no messing with this mother.” Or… you get the point.
Here, Shaun Russell inherits her financially-corrupt father’s million-dollar home plus the $4 million he has stashed away inside (unbeknownst to her). But then Eddie (Billy Burke) shows up with Duncan (Richard Cabral, as the token minority bad guy), Sam (Levi Meaden), and Peter (Mark Furze) to open the safe and break open the cash, taking Shaun’s children, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr), hostage inside the house. On the outside (hence, “breaking in”), Shaun uses all of the things in her disposal to bear as… the mama bear.
Of course, there’s something here about how a mother will go to great lengths to protect her children, no matter what the perils in her way. It’s powerful and pure in its unrelenting passion, her never-give-up attitude. That’s what we all would like to believe we’d do if our family was threatened.
In the hands of director James McTeigue (V For Vendetta, Ninja Assassin, and Netflix’s Sense8, Union is full-on banshee, and it’s almost comical to watch these bumbling reverse Three Bears try to take down not-Goldilocks. Yes, Burke is building on his Philip Stroh role in The Closer and Major Crimes, but Stroh might have actually been creepier. Burke almost seems annoyed to go through the motions as the bad guy, but maybe even in character, he knew he could never beat the mama.
Mama always wins.
Special features on the Universal Pictures Blu-ray Combo (Unrated Edition) include the featurette “One Bad Mother,” the crew’s view of McTeigue’s style in “A Filmmaker’s Eye,” “A Lesson in Kicking Ass” with some physical prep by Union, “A Hero Evolved,” an alternative ending, deleted and extended scenes, and various commentaries by McTeigue and scriptwriter Ryan Engle.