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Breach (2020) Review

Breach, not to be confused with The Breach, was directed by John Suits (3022, The Scribbler), written by Corey Large (Cosmic Sin, Apex) and Edward Drake (Gasoline Alley, American Siege), and stars Cody Kearsley (River Road, Riverdale), Bruce Willis (Fortress: Sniper’s Eye, Midnight in the Switchgrass), Rachel Nichols (The Amityville Horror, Demigod), Callan Mulvey (Shadow in the Cloud, Till Death), Timothy V. Murphy (Tragedy Girls, Hell Hath No Fury), Kassandra Clementi (Big Muddy, Becoming Bond), Johnny Messner (A Day to Die, Final Kill), and Thomas Jane (Apache Junction, The Last Son). It’s about a group of workers on a spaceship fighting to survive the outbreak of an alien mutation.

The Plot: Little of Breach is new, but the way the movie seems to revel in that fact, embracing the familiarity and cliché, is what provides most of the mileage for Breach. It entertains with a smirk like one of its stars. Earth is dying for the millionth time in a movie, and Noah (Kearsley) and Hayley (Clementi) are among the few to get on the last ship to “New Earth.” Admiral King (Jane) and most of the others go into cryo, leaving Stanley (Murphy) to watch over the blue-collar few.

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Mechanics Clay (Willis), Blue (Messner), Teek (Mulvey) and medic Chambers (Nichols) are left awake. Midway, a mutagen is released, infecting Blue among others. More people become infected and the conscious passengers are left to concoct a solution and find the person who planted the mutagen in a not-too-dissimilar fashion from 82’s the Thing before they arrive at New Earth.

The Characters: Exactly like the plot, the characters in Breach are callbacks to sci-fi/horror/thriller classics, with the Thing being the one drawn from the most. References and carbon-copying can’t save the characters, unlike the plot. Noah is a stowaway on the last ship, just trying to blend in until his arrival at New Earth so he and Hayley can start a family. Normally this would be enough to carry a character, but since Hayley is safely tucked away in cryo for the majority of the runtime, half the stakes are erased for Noah.

Clay is a drunken hardass ex-soldier escaping his failures, taking to moonshine instead of work; but he can still fight. Everyone else is cardboard. Some characters give vague insight into their personalities via offhanded lines about their screwups, but they don’t get much aside from that. Performances are generally good, finding Willis fully engaged here, laughing and having a good time; and the rest do what they can with what they have.

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The Thrills: Suits intends for Breach to work on two levels: the “plague” and its presence on the ship, and the mystery of who put it there in the first place. In half of those two ways, Suits succeeds. The mutagen that infects the passengers proves to be the better-executed threat because of the effects it has on them, which are also pulled straight from the Thing, including the infected dissolving from the inside out; allowing the parasitic mass of alien to control the body as it wishes.

The infected can’t be killed with bullets, only put down temporarily, which is another example of the “been there, done that” nature of the movie; but it’s a serviceable antagonist that’s given ample reason to be taken out as soon as possible. What doesn’t work is the mystery element. Since all of two characters are given any substantive traits, the question surrounding the saboteur remains open as it should, but the script never bothers to point fingers or even hint at who it may be; saving the answer for a late reveal that comes too little too late.

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The Technics: Suits and the producers of the movie couldn’t pool enough money together to satisfy the requirements of the script, that much is obvious. The set design on the ship is passably presented with an industrial and brutalist look, but it’s the clearly limited number of those sets that make a lot of Breach’s scenes feel repetitious as the actors walk around the same corners and into the same rooms which are intended to be different. CGI is readily apparent, too.

The detailed modelling of exterior shots of the ship can’t cover up the stock flashes of gunfire, regular fire, spraying blood, and tentacular infection which makes some scenes look made-for-TV quality. Large and Drake’s script fails in the pacing department too, which is a major blow to Breach. A lot of time is spent setting up Clay’s moonshining and Blue’s tendency to slack off, instead of establishing more interesting characters or the big bad. While the lightheartedness partially remedies the drag, it’s not enough to overlook it.

Aping classics has worked for many movies in the past, but it only partly works for Breach, which wears its influences on both sleeves. It’s an entertaining watch thanks to its brainlessness and some committed performances, but it’s rarely the blast it should be.

Breach is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital platforms from Saban Films. And if that’s not enough for you, FilmTagger has more suggestions.

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