Director: John Suits
Screenwriters: Edward Drake, Corey Large
Starring: Bruce Willis, Cody Kearsley, Rachel Nichols, Kassandra Clementi, Johnny Messner
It’s a common misconception that actors and actresses, when they reach a certain level of professionalism and clout, have the ability to only be in films that are in some way good. Be it the budget, or sheer artistic flair of the directors, or perhaps even that it’s a flagship movie that will properly establish them in the public consciousness, the jobs a thespian chooses to appear in is in some way shaped by not only their ability, but their general star power. Should this theory hold, it would mean that big stars only end up in good movies.
This is obviously complete bunk, because if it were true, it would have some work to do explaining how Bruce Willis ended up in this disaster of a film. In Breach, as part of the running crew of a colony ship, the last one headed to New Earth following a plague on the original, Willis’ character Clay ends up fighting to save the 300,000 people in cryo-sleep as an alien parasite infects the crew and threatens to kill everyone onboard.
If this sounds like a plot you’ve heard before, it’s because you have. Blend Alien (1979), Pandorum (2009), and the 2009 ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘Waters of Mars’, and you’re not far off. There are scenes where a character becomes infected with a parasite of some kind, only for it to break out of him in bloody fashion (see Alien), and where one character has to crawl through air-ducts from one location to another, and be extra quiet to avoid being heard (see almost every film in existence, but also Alien). Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a fairly standard plot and setup provided you do something interesting with it. A film’s execution can be a saving grace for its reality as a walking, talking cliché. The question is: what can Breach do to change everything up?
As it turns out, the answer to that question is “nothing”. Whilst the film runs on and you try to find some semblance of intrigue, entertainment, skill, or creativity, every second makes it clearer that there’s nothing good about this movie. The sets look cheap and nasty, filmed on such a low budget that episodes of ‘Red Dwarf’, especially the newer series, look on-par, if not better. They’re flimsy, wobbling every time a character bumps into them, made with cheap acrylic and foam, and make classic Hammer sets look sturdy by comparison. The guns look like painted NERF guns, the CGI is laughable, and the cinematography is just a wash of pale blue, as if someone put a film over the camera lens. If it were a YouTube web-series it would be impressively made with a limited budget. For a full feature film with John McClane himself in it, it is simply not acceptable. If you’ve not got the budget, you think smaller and do something interesting with it. You don’t charge ahead as if nothing’s the matter and reveal all your weaknesses.
The characters aren’t detestable, but they’re certainly not interesting. There is a five minute period where the writers allow them some time to laugh, so that you don’t find them utterly hopeless and bland, but beyond that, they’re all interchangeable aside from the main group. The acting isn’t awful, and Willis looked like he was having some fun at least, but the fact he’s in it makes me believe that it was only green lit because they’d managed to attach him to the script.
The monkeys are also back in the editing suite for Breach, managing to create a film that is cut worse than a three-year old’s art project. There’s a scene early on in the film in a dining room, which has a quick back-and-forth, a shouting pep-talk from the man in charge, and everyone leaving the room, with a final lingering shot to tease the upcoming mayhem. The entire run lasts for roughly 2m 30s, and it cuts a total of 67 times. 67 cuts in 150 seconds, for what is a fairly run-of-the-mill scene. Those numbers alone should tell you how much love and care and craft has gone into this film. None.
And because there’s no love or care or originality or craft that has gone into this film, when the characters are fighting off hoards of parasite-zombies on a spaceship, you don’t care one jot, and probably want the film to be over. There is a big monster at the end, but it’s thrown in because someone said they needed a boss to fight, and it looks cheap and badly CGI’d to boot. They obviously wanted some final, The Thing style monster, and it failed.
To cap it all off, the final scene on the surface of New Earth isn’t shocking, or a twist (as the filmmakers intended), because we’ve seen it hundreds of times before and it’s just as unimaginative as the rest of the film.
In the end, not even Bruce Willis with a sci-fi flamethrower can save Breach. A thousand spaceship-under-siege sci-fi/horror hybrids have been done before, and almost all of them infinitely better. Barely three minutes pass and you already want the film to end. Nearly ninety minutes later, the credits come as a mercy. Breach is painful in almost every respect.