Breaking

by | Sep 1, 2022 | 0 comments

John Bodega delivers a career-best performance in this indictment of veterans’ treatment
The United States has a number of shameless issues when compared to similar (and poorer) European nations, from gun culture to unattainable healthcare, overpriced education, and more. However, one of the most embarrassing problems in the United States, for decades, has been its treatment of veterans, or rather its complete disregard for them. This is the issue that the new movie “Breaking” (2022) brings to the fore. “Breaking” is the true story of Brian Brown-Easley (John Boyega), a Marine veteran who in 2017 held up a bank in Atlanta to have his complaints about the Veteran Affairs agency heard. “Breaking” is directed by Abi Damaris Corbin in her first solo directorial feature. Her focus is on humanizing Brian’s despair and showcasing the desperation that led him to take such actions. However, she is cautious not to excuse the trauma that Brian delivered upon two innocent bank employees (played by Nicole Beharie and Selenis Leyva), but rather lens the bigger complicated fabric and chain reaction of pain that the broken veteran system in the US causes. Damaris Corbin frames “Breaking” with a neo-realist style that will remind viewers of “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975) especially considering the bank robbery parallels. However, “Breaking” is tauter than the Sidney Lumet film, with each passing minute the camera draws closer to our characters making viewers feel as trapped as they are. This, along with the constant phone calls that Brian makes to both his family and the police negotiator (Michael K. Williams), will remind viewers more of the compact Danish thriller “The Guilty” (2018), in how simple conversations and dialogue build tension instead of action. “Breaking” would not work if it weren’t for its lead actor, Boyega. The “Star Wars” alumni delivers his best performance yet, and I’m encouraged to see him continue to dive into more complicated roles such as this film or the “Red, White and Blue” episode of “Small Axe” (2020). In “Breaking” Boyega takes on the difficult task of showcasing a man doing a horrible act, and yet gain viewers’ sympathy. He expertly partners with Damaris Corbin to craft a gentle and confused Brian as he begins his hold-up, and we witness his crumbling descent into despair. His final scenes were some of the most moving I’ve experienced in a cinema this year, helping transfer a sense of helplessness and tragedy to viewers. Beharie and Leyva are equally effective as the two bank employees, transmitting both their pity for Brian as well as their fear, without resolving to hysterical acting. Williams is as solid as he always was in his final film role before his untimely death last year. “Breaking” delivers a heart wrenching indictment at the abandonment of veterans by the United States. Led by an inimitable Boyega and boosted by tight and fluid directing by Damaris Corbin, “Breaking” is a film you won’t soon be able to shake off after viewing.
  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 85% 85%

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