BREAKING – Review by Liz Whittemore

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Director Abi Damaris Corbin brings to life the true story of Brian Brown-Easley. John Boyega plays the real-life ex-Marine who, in a last-ditch effort to get the money the VA owes him, threatens to blow up a Wells Fargo Bank with two female managers he’s holding hostage. Breaking is an intense thriller that keeps your heart in your throat from beginning to end. It is one of the most extraordinary stories of principle I’ve ever seen.

Performances across the board are magnificent. The women in the film elevate the complexities. Connie Britton is Lisa Larson, a news producer with whom Easley speaks in great detail. Like all of her roles, she is a solid addition to the cast. Olivia Washington plays Cassandra Easley, Brian’s ex-wife, a woman in an unthinkable crisis attempting to protect their daughter, Kai. Washington is fantastic.

Selenis Leyva plays bank teller Rosa Diaz. She is the audience. Her fear is palpable. Coming from her role on Orange is the New Black, Leyva swaps prison sass for an entirely different brand of vulnerability. Nicole Beharie is a grounding force in Breaking. Her calm strength reminds you to take a breath between scenes. Her arc is breathtaking.

In one of his final roles, Michael Kenneth Williams plays Sargent Eli Bernard, the police negotiator. Williams’ relatable nature is of utmost importance. His chemistry with Boyega is imperative.

John Boyega presents the audience with a masterclass of human desperation. Each beat screams off the screen, even in his silence. This man has clear signs of PTSD, but his sincerity and circumstance have you rooting for him. The emotional nuance blew me away as Boyega is simultaneously patient and commanding. This performance deserves every award possible. You cannot ignore it.

Abi Damaris Corbin and cowriter Kwame Kwei-Armah understood the stakes in telling this story with urgency and respect. The social commentary about this country’s despicable treatment of our veterans could not be louder. Breaking is a story of one man’s dignity, but it is also an undeniable megaphone for tens of thousands of men and women being placed on the back burner every day. The system is disgraceful. Shockingly, these incidents aren’t more frequent.

Equally relevant is that this story did not need to play out the way that it does. Beharie’s character speaks directly to this issue, asking Easley how long she has to keep her son away from the news stories. Suspects of color are never treated the same way as white individuals. Breaking is yet another glaring example of racism in the United States. The final minutes of the film will rattle your soul.

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Liz Whittemore

Liz Whittemore is the author of AWFJ's I SCREAM YOU SCREAM blog. She is Co-Managing Editor and writes for www.ReelNewsDaily.com, hosts the podcast Girls On Film and is a contributing writer for Cinemit.com and The ArtsWireWeekly. Now New York-based, she was born and raised in northern Connecticut. She's a graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, and has performed at Disneyland and famed Hartford Children's Theater, and been a member of NYC's Boomerang Theater, Connecticut's Simsbury Summer Theater, Virginia's Offstage Theatre, where she also directed. Her film credits include Suburban Skies and Surrender. In 2008, she shot Jabberwocky, a documentary now in post-production. Liz is still a children's theatre director and choreographer. She's working on an updated adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and a series of children's books.