Only Celebrity News

John Boyega channels Denzel Washington as veteran in crisis in ‘Breaking’


John Boyega in “Breaking.”

Photo: Bleecker Street

“Breaking” tells the real-life story of a man who was let down by every form of authority. It’s the story of how the government, the military, social services and law enforcement took a fragile guy and ground him to pieces — not by design and not by malice, but by neglect or institutional callousness.

The movie takes place mostly over the course of a single day, marking the climax of one man’s decline over the course of years. Brian Brown-Easley, a former Marine who returned from the Persian Gulf War with post-traumatic stress disorder, held up an Atlanta bank and took hostages in 2017.

His actions barely made sense: He held up the bank, he said, because he wanted to get the attention of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He had no interest in taking the bank’s money. Rather, he wanted to press the VA to deposit, into his bank account, the money he believed it owed him — just $892.

From the beginning, we see that he’s not the usual bank robber. After handing a note to the teller — “I have a bomb” — Brown-Easley (John Boyega) allows the teller (Selenis Leyva) to signal the bank manager (Nicole Beharie), who then proceeds to quickly and quietly usher everyone out of the bank. So it’s just him, the teller and the manager.

More Information

‘Breaking’

Rated PG-13: For violent content, strong language

Running time: 103 minutes

Where: Opens Aug. 26 throughout Houston

***1/2 (out of 5)

“Breaking” has some built-in difficulties that the filmmakers manage to overcome, but it’s a struggle. The first problem is that it’s a true story. On the plus side, knowing the story is true gives it a built-in importance, but it also limits where the story can go. It can only be as dramatic as the real-life event.

Another challenge is a product of the movie being on the bank robber’s side. Though he can, at times, act erratically, Brown-Easley is presented as a fairly nice guy, and more than once he tells his hostages that he won’t hurt them — and he says it in a way that we believe him. This comes as a relief, but relief can be the enemy of drama.

“Dog Day Afternoon” featured another nice-guy, real-life bank robber, but in that movie the robber had an accomplice, played by John Cazale, and the audience had to worry for two hours if the other bank robber might go crazy and start killing people. But Brown-Easley acted alone.

The third challenge in making “Breaking” is that Brown-Easley’s mental state renders him somewhat opaque as a character. We know generally that he came out of the war with PTSD, struggled to make a living and fixated on the VA. But we don’t fully understand him, nor do we come into a deeper understanding as the movie progresses. We just accept that, in general terms, he’s a victim.

Yet despite these challenges and drawbacks, “Breaking” holds our attention throughout, thanks to strong performances in the key roles. In his quiet, sad stoicism,…



Read More: John Boyega channels Denzel Washington as veteran in crisis in ‘Breaking’

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments