Spoiler Alert! This article contains some spoilers for the 2022 movie “Breaking.” Readers’ discretion is advised.

“Breaking,” originally titled “892,” is a thriller drama that premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year before Bleecker Street released it in the US on August 26, 2022. This is director-writer Abi Damaris Corbin’s first solo feature film project, co-written by Kwame Kwei-Armah. The inspiration came to Corbin after reading the long feature article “They Didn’t Have to Kill Him” by Aaron Gell about a Marine Veteran who threatened to blow up a Wells Fargo bank in desperation to receive his financial support from the Veterans Administration (VA).

In an interview, Corbin shared how the piece on the late Brian Brown-Easley had stirred her up; his story hit too close to home. “My heart was broken… I recognized my dad’s story in it,” the director shared, citing that her father is also a military veteran.

British actor John Boyega had definitely given the character justice and conveys to the audience the immense frustration and desperation of the former Marine who was on the verge of becoming homeless—a fresh sight of performance aside from being Finn in the “Star Wars” franchise.

Since this is a true story, the spoilers for the movie are actual events that you may already know, especially if you’ve witnessed the four-hour standoff as it unfolded in 2017.

Breaking 2022
(Screenshot from Rotten Tomatoes)

Brian served in Kuwait and Iraq during his service in the Marines from 2002 to 2005 as a Lance Corporal Warehouse clerk. After his honorable discharge, he returned to his mother’s home in Jeffersons, where he’d met his wife and eventually had their daughter sometime later. But before that, the couple had a relatively everyday life, except for Easley’s deep reservation. On the one hand, his wife didn’t really think much of it as the Marine veteran remained devoted and caring. The Easley’s, however, sensed something was up. Unfortunately, their suspicion would soon be proven right when Brian was diagnosed with PTSD and suffering from schizophrenia and paranoia, the reason why he can’t reenlist back into service.

His life slowly spiraled until 2017, when Brian reached his breaking point with concerns over her daughter coupled with the prospect of homelessness taking a toll on him.

“Desperate but calm,” a WSB-TV reporter described Brian in one of its coverage following his death. The distressed Marine veteran contacted the newsroom shortly after taking the bank hostage.

Easley I have a bomb note
(Screenshot from Rotten Tomatoes)

In a phone interview, Brain said he had no interest in getting any of the banks’ money; and if he did want money, he only wanted what was owed to him, his disability benefits. The amount… $892.

“…I going to be out on the streets tomorrow. I have a hotel room tonight, and tomorrow I have nothing. I’m just [going] to be out on the street homeless, no food, no, nothing. I don’t have much money left… not to survive the rest of the month,” Brian said over the phone.

The standoff lasted for four hours before the Marine veteran released his hostages. Minutes later, the police rolled up, smashed the bank’s brick wall, and confronted Brian, who ended his life through “suicide-by-cop.”

It was a tragic ending, and the film captured the bittersweet undertone during those moments. Despite Brian’s desperation, we see a man who stayed not resort to violence and hurt his hostages. His empathy towards his hostages was seen when the police were shooting right at the bank at one point, and Brian immediately dove toward one of his hostages and saved her from getting shot. Though he was carrying a bomb and was using it to threaten the hostages and the armed forces waiting for him outside, all he wanted was his $892 disability check.

The actor, Boyega, absolutely depicted what seemed to be a cry for help from Brian when he handed that note to the bank teller, Rosa, that says, “I have a bomb.” And the movie is really about that. Not the heist. Not the scrambling police force. Not even the two hostages, who witnessed first-hand the roller-coaster of emotion their hostage-taker is going through. It’s about justice and the call to fix the bureaucracy in the VA to ensure that every veteran will be taken care of.

In the words of a movie reviewer, Dan Murrell has explained, “For what Brian’s life could have been had he not felt forced to enter that bank which is an action in and of itself that’s past the point of no return.”

“…also it could have been if Brian had received the help that he needed and how different his life would have been,” he added.

New feature films explore what happens when America’s best go rogue

Read Next: New feature films explore what happens when America’s best go rogue

“Breaking,” while the performance Boyega was definitely outstanding, also acts as a cautionary tale. A tale of what a desperate man can do when the system he’d clung for hope fails him.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts? Share them down below!