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Release Date: 08/26/22 [Cinemas]

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller

Studio: Bleecker Street

"A Marine war veteran faces mental and emotional challenges when he tries to reintegrate back into civilian life."


Though its dumbed-down title sounds like something you’d find scrolling on one of the many streaming services we’re inexplicably choosing to favour on a daily basis, Breaking is a far smarter, more complex thriller than it could be given credit for; its original title of 892 – which it played under earlier in the year at Sundance – has more meaningful, explorative connotations.

A high-strung thriller that furthers John Boyega’s hold on cinema outside of the blockbuster model he seems to be solely known for at this point, Breaking centres itself around his Marine Corps veteran Brian Brown Easley and his triggered depression over a withheld Veterans Affairs disability check that has led him to issue a bomb threat at a Wells Fargo Bank.

Though it would be all too easy for Abi Damaris Corbin’s film to paint Easley with crazed brushstrokes, the care and detail adhered to through Corbin’s writing and directing, and Boyega’s delicate performance, consistently keep his damaged character as someone we want to help and see removed from the situation safely; both physically and psychologically.

Breaking does a fine job of commenting on the isolation that military veterans can face when seemingly tossed from the system they were trained to serve, but also knowing that it needs to adhere to the popcorn nature of its thriller framing, Easley’s “hostage” situation is managed by Eli Bernard (Kenneth Michael Williams, in a fine swan song performance), a detective and negotiator who is laboring to prevent the seemingly inevitable outcome that will be Easley’s death.

Much like the ebbs and flows of Easley and Bernard’s conversations – their developed relationship over the course of the film is truly its heartbeat – Breaking is a balancing act that doesn’t always calculate the correct additives. The “thriller” score often cheapens the film’s emotional core, and Jeffrey Donovan furthers the removal of dramatic weight by playing a character that’s almost too stereotypical it borders on parody.

Such uneven footing can be easily forgiven though, with the closing image of Breaking driving home the needless blood shed throughout American history and a timely reminder to remember and value the people defending our country and how such patriotism shouldn’t be met with ultimate dismissal.

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