Breaking Review - True Story Resonates

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Breaking, from Bleecker Street Media, presents, a resonating true story facing so many veterans, who served their country and returned home confronted with disabling mental injuries to fight a system built to hinder instead of help.

The film begins with Brian Brown Easley, played by John Boyega, being escorted by two security guards to the front steps of a building. At this point the audience is unaware of where this confrontation took place and why. He is disheveled, and clearly upset. What ever happened in the moments before this incident it resulted in a physical assault. A person hands him his glasses which were knocked off.

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He is walking alone on a highway, past homeless encampments, and talking to his daughter, played Kiah, played by London Covington. He explains as he makes promises he won't keep that his phone is running out of minutes. He looks at the screen, "no more time," in highlighted letters.

Walking to the SRO hotel where he is living, the hard truth of his current situation is realized when the owner explains, pay up or get out. Brian Brown Easley is a man at his breaking point.

The next day, as he walks into the Wells Fargo, we understand, even as he withdraws money from his bank account, we know his plan. Within minutes, he explains to the teller, Rosa Diaz, played by Selenis Leyva, that he has a bomb. The bank manager, Estel Valerie, played by Nicole Beharie, assess the situation, and begins ushering customers out.

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This is where the film pivots and we begin to understand the trauma that drove him to this moment. Clearly his plan is hazardous, and the audience knows he does not have a bomb. But it here we understand, Brian Brown Easley was a decorated Marine Veteran, served in Iraq. He returned from war to a country unprepared or unwilling to handle the many who came home with PTSD.

He continues to escalate the situation with threats and finally he receives the audience he believes he needs to get the message out. He telephones the local news station where he speaks with Lisa Larson, played by Connie Britton, and he tells his story. Having a military background, he has information on explosives he explains he made the bomb from Semtex, which is enough to level the room and uses it with authority when he speaks to the media.

Throughout the hostage situation he continues to comfort the women and tries to manage the out-of-control circumstance. This is where we meet hostage negotiator, Eli Bernard, played by Michael K. Williams, also a fellow marine, who is hoping to end this peacefully.

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When the world hears about Easley's minor demands, we don't understand how this decorated veteran, a loving father, who fought for the wealthiest nation in the world, could come home to treatment that would leave him without recourse.

Then we understand, the Veterans Administration rerouted his funds to pay a delinquent student loan, and it left him penniless, unable to secure employment, unable to pay his rent. For some reason, he was reduced to his breaking point, without meaning.

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A true story, Breaking is an indictment against an in-triplicate system built to reduce vets to begging for respect and benefits rightly earned and owed to them. The "mistake" which cost Brian Brown Easley's his life was never corrected.

Breaking is playing exclusively in theaters. Check local listings. See it.


Country: USA.

Runtime: 103minutes.

Director: Abi Damaris Corbin.

Writer: Abi Damaris Corbin, Kwame Kwei-Armah.

Producer: Salman Al-Rashid, Mackenzie Fargo, Sam Frohman, Ashley Levinson, Kevin Yuren.

Cast: John Boyega, Michael K. Williams, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Jeffrey Donovan, Olivia Washington, London Covington, Kate Burton, Robb Derringer.

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