The dangerous story of a neglected Marine resorting to drastic measures.
John Boyega delivers a profound, full-throttle, and complex performance as a former Marine named Brian Brown-Easley, who was honorably discharged, separated from his wife Cassandra (Olivia Washington) and daughter Kiah (London Covington), and on top of al that, he hasn’t received his disability check from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. “Breaking” is based on the true story of Brian (1983-2017) and how he held up a Wells Fargo, not for their money but for the VA’s.
Writer/director Abu Damaris Corbin tells it with such intensity and powerful motives, that it’s easily impossible to not be absorbed by its true nature. The tension thickens as the narrative unfolds.
This was one of the films I’ve viewed on the virtual experience of the Sundance Film Festival, where it was originally titled “892,” and I needed more time to figure out if I was blinded by the ambitions and perspectives. Other critics were mixed-to-positive about it, maybe because it doesn’t feature the full-throttle nature of other movies of its kind. They’re probably right, but I still saw the right motives and the fine performances.
He holds the teller (Selenis Leyva) and manager (Nicole Beharie). He wants them to call the police, the media, and anyone, just so he can get his story out there. While the hostages plan their escape, he furiously demands to have his story told-the honest-to-God truth.
Out of the people he makes contact with, Major Riddick (Jeffrey Donovan) is the negotiator, Lisa Larson (Connie Britton) is the reporter he calls, and Eli Bernard (Michael Kenneth Williams in his final performance) is the sergeant and another former marine who tries to be his voice of reasoning. In fact, Eli is the one who really cares about him, and wants to help him. One Marine to another.
Boyega has made a name for himself with his role of Finn in the latest “Star Wars” franchise, but he has also proven himself more than that with such opuses as “Detroit,” which got the sh*t end of the stick at the box office, and “Red, White, and Blue,” which was part of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” package. Now, with “Breaking,” he really pushes himself to the very limit, and resurrects this soldier with true commitment. This won’t be the billion dollar box office hit, because it is an independent feature, but as Roger Ebert said: “Just because they weren’t big box office hits, doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining.”
“Breaking” reminds people about what went down and how things could have been, but violence and negligence have set things off the rails. I’ve never heard about this event, but watching this movie kept me involved. Corbin and co-writer Kwame Kwei-Armah both guide Boyega in a strong, powerful state, in which he eases into the real like Marine, and never let’s go.
Besides Boyega, some of the supporting actors help shift the film’s aspects. Williams gives a farewell performances with the right kind of ease, especially when his character makes contact with the main soldier. And both Leyva and Beharie provide some fine, terrified work as the hostages. It’s all about sincerity and truth, and it’s nice to see them not succumbing to the cliches of the genre.
Some of the best hostage movies include “A Perfect World,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Argo.” “Breaking” doesn’t reach as high as those masterpieces, but it does come as close as some of this year’s most tedious would-be blockbusters as “The 355” or “Ambulance,” or Netflix hits like “The Gray Man.”