Friday, January 22, 2016

The Breaking Point (2014)

The Breaking Point is a crime drama about three guys who shoot a woman in a convenience store, the detectives who are investigating the murder, and a woman who is eager to be district attorney. It is a mess. It opens with the woman who wishes to be the next DA telling a friend that she is working on something special in order to get that job. He asks her about Assistant DA Thomas who is next in line, and she tells him, “I’ll give Thomas an offer than he cannot refuse.” Here are some other clich├ęs from that first scene: “Everything worth having is worth fighting for,” “If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you,” and “Word on the street.” The whole script is like that. (Later we have lines like “It’s like taking candy from a baby” and “Let’s just say a little birdie told me.”) It’s pretty bad. It feels like a first draft. And we have to suffer through some awful and completely useless narration by a character named Shawn (played by Erik Grey).

Shawn, his brother Mike and his friend TJ enter a convenience store, and TJ decides to rob a woman in there, and ends up shooting and killing her. Another bullet injures Mike. Shawn, in his narration, tells us that this “set off a chain of events that we would all later regret.” (That’s not even true, by the way; it doesn’t seem that TJ regrets anything. And come to think of it, it doesn’t seem like Shawn or Mike regrets it either. None of them expresses any remorse. Neither Shawn nor Mike ever turns TJ in. But then again, the line is that they would regret the chain of events, not the actual murder. So whatever. Though after Mike is shot, he does say he should have stayed in school, so there’s that.)

The lighting is also a major problem in this film. The actors are often in shadow, and it doesn’t seem like it’s by choice, but rather by lack of proper lighting.  When Li Ling, the Asian cashier at the store, tells the detectives, “I no see face,” it doesn’t seem like she’s lying, like she’s saying that because she’s scared to testify. I couldn’t see his face either, due to poor lighting. And this is in a convenience store, for fuck’s sake.

The narrator introduces every character. “That’s Captain Harry Sawyer. He retired from the police department after thirty-two years. A real law and order type of dude.” Yes, that’s the kind of dialogue we have to listen to throughout the film. Ouch. And watch Harry’s insane reaction when he learns his wife has been killed. And one of the other cops tells him, “Everything happens for a reason.” I personally like to punch people who say that, but Harry doesn’t hit him. Soon Harry’s granddaughters arrive (cue the terrible emotional music – the score is yet one more major problem), and one of them says, “We’ll get through this together, the way Grandma would have wanted it.” Have I mentioned how bad the dialogue is? And they don’t get through this together anyway. After this scene, the granddaughters disappear.

This movie also has several pointless flashbacks. In one of them, we see the chick that wants to be DA as a child. One of her friends says, “Come on, girls, we need to start working on our realistic career aspirations.” Are you fucking kidding me? Another long, fruitless flashback involves an aborted oil change. The flashbacks become more and more risible. Check out the one after a little girl begs Harry, “Please don’t kill my mommy.” Oh, that reminds me: Harry of course starts investigating on his own, since he was a cop and it was his wife that was killed. But nothing ever comes of that. Nothing. That’s the way this movie is.

The movie keeps introducing people, and you wonder briefly if they might have anything to do with the plot, if perhaps they’ll help get it going. But in most cases, no, they don’t. And I should mention that these are all despicable losers, so who gives a shit what happens to any of them? Are we supposed to side with Shawn? After all, he provides the voice of the film. But why would we care about this guy? He is a thug. Sure, he didn’t pull the trigger, but he is an accessory to murder. And then in an effort to avoid jail, he commits another crime – he breaks into the store that night in order to steal the surveillance tapes. But he can’t find them. Do the cops have them? No, apparently no one has them. It’s another element that never pays off. Why didn’t the cops ask about the tapes when they arrived on the crime scene? I don’t think it’s that the detectives are lazy; I think it’s the writers who are lazy. Yes, writers. It took two people to write this script. Wow.

Out of nowhere there is a slow motion close-up shot of a girl’s ass as she walks away. This movie is amateur hour through and through. It seems like there was no storyboarding or planning of any kind. I mean, who are the main characters? What is the film’s point of view? What is it trying to say? This movie pretends to be about an innocent man wrongly accused of murder. On the DVD cover it says, “Sometimes the innocent have to go beyond… The Breaking Point.” But again, Shawn is far from being innocent.

After Shawn is arrested, he tells the detective, “I’ve seen tougher dudes than you in dresses round my way.” Well, let’s see them in this film! We’ve seen every other person in the neighborhood. Bring on the transvestites!

Suddenly the film jumps to ten months later and Shawn is on trial. But wait a minute. The Asian chick told the cops that three black men were involved. Did the cops ever look into the identities of the other two? What the hell? And the end is totally stupid. Shawn narrates the whole ending, explaining what happened. But who cares? Shawn and Mike, who were accessories to murder, are shown in a college classroom. Are we supposed to think that’s a good thing?

So, what’s good about this movie? In the middle of all this, there is a wonderful scene with two women named Bernadette and Yvette, who are questioned by the detectives. They are the only believable characters, and their scene is by far the most enjoyable. Bernadette is playing by Shellita Boxie, who turns in a really good performance. These two women are so good that it feels for a moment like we’re in a completely different movie, a better movie.

The Breaking Point was directed by James Hunter.

(Note: I posted a shorter version of this review on Pop Culture Beast.)

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