Life can be unfair, and being in financial crisis to the point of it causing a mental breakdown is devastating on many levels. In Breaking, a film based on actual events, director Abi Damaris Corbin explores the irreparable damages that can arise from such devastating circumstances.
Breaking is about a 2017 event where Brian Brown-Easley, played by John Boyega, held up a Wells Fargo bank because was not receiving his disability checks. The depiction of Brian’s anxiety and of the robbery in Breaking is stark and surreal. The surrealism is heightened through the performance of Boyega. His anxiety is not only incredibly high, but it is also high for those he puts at risk—and for the world that is watching the chaos he has created. The crazy part is, he wants all that attention.
Breaking begins with a heavy introduction to Brian’s anxiety, his financial struggles and other mental issues. He tries to communicate the best he can to find alternatives or solutions to his financial issues. But with many debts and other stressors, he makes a very unfortunate decision. He casually walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and makes it obvious to bank employees Estel and Rosa, played by Nicole Beharie and Selena Leyva, that he is robbing the bank. He tells Estel and Rosa what to do quietly, but the danger rises when he tells them to alert the police and the media. Hostage negotiator Eli Bernard, played by Michael Kenneth Williams arrives and believes he can help Brian find a guiding light, but is there a light to be found?
The negotiations between Boyega and Williams raised several questions for me. Why is Brian taking the incredible risks he is taking? How did he decide that holding up a bank would solve his problems? What is Eli’s plan as the negotiator? The answers are concrete, but the situation is complicated.
he unpredictable nature of the situation makes Breaking invigorating, but tense and unpleasant in an exciting way. And given the seriousness of Brian’s decision to rob a bank, the film’s audience will know that there will be consequences no matter the result of the negotiations. Overall, though the film is an exhilarating and dramatic, engaging yet heavy, cinematic experience. Three stars for Breaking.