Justice ignored is indeed justice denied. What’s more, it’s an open invitation to things easily getting out of hand as the tension behind this is dialed up to an exaggerated level. That’s precisely what happens in this fact-based drama
In 2017, Lance Corporal Brian Easley (John Boyega) made national headlines when he walked into a Wells Fargo bank in Atlanta, Georgia, and told a bank teller that he had a bomb in his backpack. His intentions were not to rob the bank as some might expect. His plan was to use the hostage situation to call attention to the fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs had withheld an $892 check that was rightfully his. Despite the best efforts of some first responders who recognized Easley’s desperation, he was still ultimately a Black man in America suffering from a mental health crisis.
Boyega is undoubtedly one of the best and brightest performers of his generation. While Star Wars may have pushed him fully into the public eye, his ability to beautifully convey the full gamut of human emotions in Breaking has secured his place as a powerhouse in the industry. Easley is not an easy role to embody because he was a real-life person who met a tragic end only five years ago.
In a short window of time, you come to care so much for Easley that the heartbreak of the ending is that much worse. Even when he reveals his plans at the bank and takes Estel Valerie (Nicole Beharie) and Rosa Diaz (Selenis Leyva) hostage, you can empathize with him and understand what pushed him to the brink.
Beharie gives an outstanding performance, trying to keep a cool and collected demeanor, while containing her fear. Both Leyva and Beharie worked well with Boyega, helping to convey this sense of terror mixed with understanding.
What’s truly heartbreaking about Breaking is that Easley’s death accomplished nothing. His plight was an outlier, it’s the norm for how many veterans are treated in America. Hopefully, with the renewed interest in his story that this film will garner, something can be done to help the next Brian Easley, before it’s too late.