BREAKING – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Filmmaker Abi Damaris Corbin’s Breaking is a military take on 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon. In that film, Al Pacino’s bank robber committed a crime so he could pay for his male lover’s sex-change operation, which back in that era felt rather farcical given that LBTQ community was not exactly embraced back then.

That stick-up job was based on a true story and so is this one. But the mood here is different — overly melodramatic, uneasy, tense and more than somewhat manipulative as it portrays how war vets aren’t given support they need to resume life as a civilian.

On July 7, 2017, Brian Brown -Easley (John Boyega), an ex- Marine Cops lance corporal who served in Iraq and Kuwait, walks into a Wells Fargo bank in Atlanta and passes a note to a teller that says, “I have a bomb.” He wants to get the money that the Veteran Affairs owes him – namely $892 and some cents.

Brian, who we first see living in a tent city on the streets, never got the medical help that he needed and is still traumatized by what he suffered and witnessed during battle. His main priority is his young daughter Kiah, who desperately wants a dog and wants to name it for Frodo’s sidekick buddy Sam from The Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, his ex-wife who lives in a house that presumably was his own at one time basks in the attention that her ex is getting from TV news.

He allows all but two female tellers to stay behind as the rest of the staff flees. Estel (played with nuance and a wealth of sympathetic emotion by Nicole Beharie) and Rosa (Selenis Leyva).

While Boyega does his best to give off nervy vibes and moments of despair, his performance is upstaged by the late actor Michael Kenneth Williams, whose cop acts as a go-between and a negotiator for Brian outside of the bank. He wrings plenty of drama as he stands up for Brian. Sadly, the actor who starred in the HBO series The Wire, was found dead on Sept. 6, 2021, in his home in Brooklyn. He was 54. Perhaps he might get a posthumous Oscar nomination for his work here just as Chadwick Bosman did for his supporting role in in 2020’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.