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Free Gabrielle Union and Melissa McCarthy

Reviews BREAKING IN. For longer than I'd really care to countenance (probably the release of Bring It On in 2000) I've found Gabrielle Union to be a consummately compelling actor who should be in major releases with her name above the title. There are vestigial traces of the old weak knees, mild palpitations playground crush in this, to be sure. But what has become most compelling now is the balance of humor, strength and humility with which she seems to approach the work of acting. One could call it charisma or screen presence, but to me there is a deeper, more innate and personal quality to her best performances that closes the distance between her and the audience. There isn't much artifice to her acting and very little preciousness or manufactured gravitas — she doesn't seem to be trying to impress anybody. She shows up for the work and is present and immediate in parts that — lamentably, more often than not — might not rise to that level of input. Union is funny right up to the boundary of goofiness, vulnerable without seeming exposed, always with dignity and composure. I can rarely find a reason to watch anyone else when she's on screen. So it was exciting to consider the possibility of watching her kick ass and take names as a mom repelling a crew of home invaders. Kick ass and take names, she does. But once again she is far and away the best part of a shallowly imagined, Kansas-flat, would-be thriller that is most surprising in its many failures of technical execution. The setup is promising: Shaun Russell (Union) returns to the lavish, isolated horse ranch of her youth to settle the estate of her estranged father and prepare the house for sale. She has brought along her teenage daughter Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and younger son Glover (Seth Carr). What she couldn't possibly know: A robbery crew has chosen the same weekend to break in, in search of a possibly apocryphal sum of cash in a hidden safe. (There's some background noise/exposition about Shaun's dad liquidating his assets on the eve of a fraud trial.) And then the movie ostensibly starts to pick up steam but really just goes immediately off the rails. The bad guys, all thinly drawn arch characters to start with, are played as if by people who checked out a library book about…

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