★★★★

Releasing on the weekend of Mother’s Day was no accident for the home invasion thriller Breaking In, which centers around a mother who will do whatever it takes to protect her two children when the family is caught between four ruthless thieves and a prize they are willing to kill for.

Without a doubt, the highlight of Breaking In is a stellar performance by the lead actress Gabrielle Union who plays Shaun Russell – the mother in the film. Union does an excellent job throughout the film conveying the emotion and desperation of a mother who is fighting for not only her own life but more importantly the lives of her children.

The concept of how ferociously a mother bear is willing to fight to defend her cubs is another highlight of the film. Plenty of movies have centered around fathers going to extraordinary lengths to fight for the lives of their family, from the Taken series to Homefront to countless others. The same concept but with the mother at the center, though, is far less charted waters for Hollywood. Breaking In offers a cinematic look at the protection instincts of a mother when she and her family are placed in the most desperate of situations, and it’s really somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for a film to center around this concept.

In most every other way, though, Breaking In is pretty standard for the genre. The plot unfolds almost exactly as you expect it to as soon as the story is introduced, and though there are a few surprising twists along the way, there’s never any real doubt as to how the film will play out.

That’s not to say that Breaking In isn’t suspenseful. Despite leaning heavily on the tropes of its genre and sticking to the basic formula that most all home invasion movies follow, Breaking In still manages to ramp up the desperation – and thus the suspense – to entertaining levels. Breaking In isn’t a Home Alone type film where the heroine bests the bumbling intruders at every turn and leaves them wishing from the moment they arrive that they’d picked a different house to burglarize. In Breaking In, the stakes are high, the situation seems hopeless, and Shaun Russell must fight for all her worth just to have a chance at ensuring the survival of her family.

Overall, Breaking In is an enjoyable film that makes good use of its 89 minute runtime. If you look past Gabrielle Union’s excellent performance and the film’s mother-centric plot, there may not be much that separates Breaking In from every other film in the home invasion genre. Nevertheless, those two highlights are still enough to make Breaking In a worthwhile watch.