ROUTINE “BREAKING IN” CRIME CAPER; “ROYAL ROMANCE” ON TV 2018

 

ROUTINE “BREAKING IN” CRIME CAPER; “ROYAL ROMANCE” ON TV

A Film Review by Tim Riley

BREAKING IN (Rated PG-13) A home invasion is a handy staple for predictable excitement and “Breaking In” falls into this category with such ease that little time is wasted in this fast-paced thriller of getting to the point.

The opening scene focuses on older gentleman Isaac (Damien Leake) selecting an expensive wristwatch from a drawer full of them before going out for a morning run. On his jog through Chicago suburbs, he is hit by a vehicle and it’s no accident.

We soon learn that Isaac is the estranged father of Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) and he’s left behind the terrible legacy of a corrupt businessman facing an imminent prison term for what we don’t exactly know but could likely surmise to be financial misdeeds.

Tidying up the affairs left behind after Isaac’s death, Shaun takes her two children, teenage daughter Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and precocious tech-savvy son Glover (Seth Carr), on a weekend trip to rural Wisconsin to close her father’s mansion.

Settling into the high-tech house filled with electronic surveillance and bulletproof glass, the Russell family is quickly besieged by a gang of thieves hell-bent on finding a secret stash of $4 million in cash allegedly hidden from government seizure.

The basic story is about the efforts of a protective mother going up against a quartet of bad guys. To get things rolling, the two children are snatched first, leaving Shaun to kick into the supermom role.

The criminal gang is made up of nervous pretty boy Sam (Levi Meaden), psychotic thug Duncan (Richard Cabral), safecracker Peter (Mark Furze), and the leader, sullen conniver Eddie (Billy Burke), who enjoys taunting Shaun with some cheesy barbs.

Shaun, however, is no pushover willing to give up without a fight, for apparently she’s aware that she and her family are not getting out alive even if the criminals eventually find the stash of loot.

The twist is that Shaun, who says “you have no idea of what I am capable of” to ringleader Eddie, uses every clever trick to get back into the house in a daring rescue attempt that turns violent.

Breaking In” is, at best, a gratuitous B-movie thriller. The fast pace masks the plot holes that you may think about more after all is said and done. It’s not the worst movie of this genre, if that’s any consolation.

 

HARRY & MEGHAN: A ROYAL ROMANCE” ON LIFETIME

Biographical stories of real people in the public eye work so much better when the actors portraying well-known celebrity figures achieve some level of verisimilitude for their performances.

Fortunately, the realism of “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” a TV movie on Lifetime, is good enough that at the end credits, when clips of the royal couple-to-be are shown at a public outing in London, the transition from the actors to the actual persons is nearly seamless.

Credit goes to the actors Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser, respectively, in the roles of American actress Meghan Markle and Harry, Prince Henry of Wales, for portraying such remarkable physical resemblance to their real-life counterparts.

Similar to most biographical tales, “Harry & Meghan” takes plenty of liberties with the real story, and fact-checking reports have already surfaced. And since the couple kept the romance secret at first, who’s to know what pillow talk is authentic.

The interesting thing about a TV movie focused so much on the royal family, with scenes at Kensington Place, is whether fascination with the royal wedding of the heir sixth in line to the throne holds the same fascination as the nuptials of his parents.

The late Princess Diana (Bonnie Soper), seen in several flashbacks, looms large in the story of her youngest son, Prince Harry, because her untimely death has left emotional scars yet to heal twenty years later.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet on a blind date in a private dining room and hit off rather quickly, even though the geographic and cultural gap between them would seem insurmountable.

Dedicated to her own social causes, Meghan is an assertive actress still working on the TV series “Suits,” filming in Seattle. She seems unlikely royal material, given that she is a divorced American of biracial heritage.

Nevertheless, after a few stumbles, Harry pursues her in his private jet with a retinue of bodyguards, showing up at her trailer one day. The romance kicks into gear when they take a camping trip to Botswana.

The movie does not overlook the Prince’s reputation as a rebellious party animal. The fact that he’s ready to settle down with a foreigner of no royal lineage is cause for a family debate that resolves in his favor.

Everybody from Prince Charles and Camilla to Prince William and Kate Middleton to the Queen Mother herself, who grants approval to the marriage during a Palace meeting, are nicely portrayed.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance” is the kind of romantic fairy tale, albeit one tackling class and social issues, that fits neatly into the Lifetime channel’s bent to pop culture biographies.