John Boyega Shines in Gripping New Thriller "Breaking" (Movie Review)

Multicultural InSites
Cover image for  article: John Boyega Shines in Gripping New Thriller "Breaking" (Movie Review)

Giving a career-best performance, John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) brilliantly portrays a troubled veteran in the new thriller from Bleecker Street Films.

It is no secret how rampant homelessness is among veterans in this country. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that 13% of homeless adults are veterans. HUD also estimates that over 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, struggling to find employment, affordable housing and healthcare while many cope with mental illness and the long-term effects of combat injuries. From director Abi Damaris Corbin and screenwriter Kwame Kwei-Armah, Breaking artfully tackles this subject with tact, aplomb and a steady hand to recount the final days of a troubled Marine who demanded his struggle and that of thousands of fellow veterans be told nationwide.

Breaking on an article from Task & Purpose titled They Didn’t Have to Kill Him, a detailed recounting by Aaron Gell of the day-long standoff that began when former United States Marine Brian Brown-Easley (Boyega, pictured at top, left), desperate after not receiving the monthly disability check he depended on to survive, entered a Wells Fargo bank in Marietta, Georgia, and informed a teller that he had a bomb in his backpack. As depicted in the movie, he calmly allowed the customers and staff to leave, except for the two bank managers Estel and Rosa, played by Nicole Baharie (Sleepy Hollow) and Selenis Levya (Orange Is the New Black), respectively.

As Brown-Easley threatens to blow up the bank, vowing to injure no one but himself unless his demands are met, hostage negotiator Eli Bernard arrives on the scene. He is brilliantly portrayed by the late, great Michael K. Williams (top right) in his final film performance. Brown-Easley demands that everyone, from the SWAT team to the firemen to and every broadcast news reporter covering the crisis witness what is happening. He even goes as far as to call a local news producer, played by Connie Britton, giving a live account and telling his story to the masses.

Boyega displays Brown-Easley’s desperation and exasperation with uncommon intensity, expertly juggling the veteran’s frustrated outbursts with  calmer, even tender moments with Estel and Rosa, or while on the phone with his young daughter. Williams handles the calm, cool and collected demeanor of negotiator Bernard flawlessly, taking on the character’s profession with ease, yet there is a lasting tenseness behind his eyes as we’re sure Bernard may have experienced similar negotiations going south very quickly.

Boyega and Williams have excellent chemistry despite never appearing together on screen. Their back-and-forth brings some slight moments of humor and levity throughout the tense thriller, with Bernard establishing that as a fellow former Marine and Black man, he too has faced hardships and ensuring Brown-Easley that he is there to make sure he walks away from this alive.

With direction from Abi Damaris Corbin, cinematography by Doug Emmett and editing by Chris Witt, the three work as a complete unit to effectively tell this story, seamlessly transitioning from the present to flashbacks of Brown-Easley’s deployment and the events leading to the bank hold up. The team also conveys how PTSD can manifest itself in a variety of ways, not just from the often depicted crippling anxiety or wartime flashbacks.

Due to the actual events of the story coming to an abrupt halt, the film similarly comes to a sudden, yet impactful climax. However, it lingers on for a few more moments to show the effects that Brian Brown-Easley had on all those involved in the hostage situation, from law enforcement to the bank staff and his own family in the aftermath.

While Breaking could have easily fallen into an overdone heist thriller, it instead provides a wonderfully handled, character-driven drama shedding light on the mistreatment of our veterans and the injustices against Black Americans, a message that will stay with you far after the credits roll.

Breaking is now playing in theatres nationwide.

Click the social buttons above or below to share this content with your friends and colleagues.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this content are exclusively the views of the author and/or subject(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of, Inc. management or associated writers.

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.