• by Wes Singleton

Breaking In, C

Rated PG-13, 88 minutes

The women-in-distress thing has been done before, but not with Gabrielle Union, one of the best and most underrated actresses today. Union makes for one tough mother in the otherwise silly "Breaking In." She's the main reason to see the predictable, stale thriller, which is peppered with a few good moments.

Shaun Russell ("Being Mary Jane's" Union) takes her son (Seth Carr) and daughter (Aijona Alexus of "Acrimony") on a weekend getaway to her late father's secluded, high-tech vacation home in the countryside. The family soon gets an unwelcome surprise when four men (including Billy Burke of "Twilight," Richard Cabral and Levi Meaden) break into the house to find hidden money. Shaun must now figure out a way to turn the tables on the desperate thieves and save her captive children.

The modestly entertaining, suspenseful "Breaking In" is guilty-pleasure popcorn entertainment for sure, and it helps that it's grounded by the lovely Union playing a determined mother going toe-to-toe with some bad guys out for a bunch of money stashed in her late father's extravagant house. These things rarely are grounded in any sense of reality, but then that's part of their appeal and silliness. Of course, it's a huge, opulent house out in the middle of nowhere where no one can hear you, I mean that's where I'd prefer to keep all my millions instead of like a bank or something.

There are some decent cat-and-mouse moments when they're in the house, though the script has to make some obvious references to Shaun's determination as a mother to get her children back, as if we didn't know that already. The first act is its most suspenseful, but the climax tends to fall apart from one silly plot turn to another, particularly when the action moves out of the house.

I do like that "Breaking In" is saved by a strong, smart woman, and that strong, smart woman is Union, who carries the movie on her back all the way until the end. It pulls few surprises, with the only revealing thing here being that Union deserves much better material than this.

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