John Boyega is … Breaking (CREDIT: Bleecker Street)

Starring: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Michael K. Williams, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Jeffrey Donovan, Olivia Washington, London Covington

Director: Abi Damaris Corbin

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Constantly Being on the Edge of Disaster

Release Date: August 26, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Brian Brown-Easley is a most desperate man. A clerical error is preventing him from getting his benefit payments from the Veteran Affairs office, and with his precarious financial situation being what it is, that could very easily mean ending up on the street. So he decides to hold up a bank to procure his money. But his plan isn’t robbery. Rather, it’s about getting the VA’s attention so that they’ll finally hold up their end of the bargain. So he announces that’s he got a bomb and takes a couple of bank employees hostage. As the tense day unfolds, Brian checks in with his ex-wife and young daughter, contacts a local news station on his own, and flummoxes the authorities with his intractable demands.

What Made an Impression?: Breaking is based on a true story, and I imagine that the real Brian Brown-Easley would be happy with the way it turned out. After all, the underlying purpose of his holdup was getting the message out about the VA’s broken system. His monetary demand was quite paltry, in fact. He’s owed $892.34, and that’s all he’s asking for. Not a penny less, and not a penny more. If you were to offer him, say, ten dollars extra, hoo boy, get ready to watch his blood boil all over Georgia. And even though he’s at the bank, he insists that the cash has to come from the VA. He’s willing to die over that demand. A few breaths might be enough to make most people conclude that that’s a drastic overreaction, but I can see where Brian’s coming from.

In a movie where the performances are essential, four stand out as absolutely doing everything we need them to do. Thankfully, we can count John Boyega as Brian among those essentials; he’s fully locked in to seeing everything through to the end. Then there’s Nicole Beharie as the bank manager and Selenis Leyva as the teller, the former pulling out all the stops to make a lifesaving connection and the latter sunken deep into survival mode. And then we’ve got a posthumous gift from Michael K. Williams as the lead negotiator; if there’s anyone who could ever possibly lead us out of such an impossible situation, it’s gotta be the guy who so famously taught the value of a personal code. Let’s hope society takes the lesson of Breaking and catches up.

Breaking is Recommended If You Like: Dog Day Afternoon, Subtle activism, Behind the scenes of live news broadcasts

Grade: 4 out of 5 Benefits