BREAKING. On a hot summer day in 2017, Marine veteran Brian Brown-Easley walked nervously into a bank in the Atlanta area and handed a note to one of the employees. The note simply stated, “I have a bomb,” but the man explained that he was not intending to rob the bank. Instead, in an act of desperation, Brown-Easley was pleading to know why the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had withheld his monthly disability check of $892.
This true-life event would ultimately end in tragedy for Brown-Easley, the 33-year-old former Lance Corporal, husband, and father who held up the bank. In Breaking, his story is told with tremendous craft and a rare degree of compassion for all sides. Set within the bank, the film portrays the tense, minute-by-minute ordeal, while building a complex character study of Brown-Easley and the circumstances, both internal and external, that brought him to that fateful day.
Marking the feature directorial debut of Abi Damaris Corbin (who co-wrote the film with esteemed playwright/director Kwame Kwei-Armah), Breaking stars John Boyega (Star Wars, Attack the Block, Small Axe: Red, White and Blue, The Woman King) as Brown-Easley, with the 30-year-old actor delivering a riveting performance of emotional range and intensity.
The film also features the late Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Lovecraft Country) in a steely final performance as a hostage negotiator, along with Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow, Miss Juneteenth), Selenis Leyva (Orange is the New Black), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, Nashville), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice, Fargo), Olivia Washington (Mr. Robot), and London Covington (Abbott Elementary).
Producers include Salman Al-Rashid (Lakota Nation vs. the United States), Ashley Levinson (Pieces of a Woman, Irma Vep), Kevin Turen (The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent), Sam Frohman (Aftershock) and Mackenzie Fargo, while the Executive Producers include Joshuah Bearman (Little America), John Boyega, Abi Damaris Corbin, Joshua Davis (The Beauty of Blackness), Will Greenfield (Malcolm & Marie), Harrison Huffman (Last Looks), Harrison Kreiss (Those Who Wish Me Dead), Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sam Levinson (Euphoria), Femi Oguns (Pacific Rim: Uprising), Arthur Spector, Jarrett R. Turner, and Katia Washington (Assassination Nation). Elena Bawiec is a co-producer, Morwin Schmookler (The Emoji Story) is a co-executive producer, and Alvaro R. Valente is a line producer.
The cinematographer is Doug Emmett (I Care A Lot, Sorry to Bother You), while the film editor is Chris Witt (Finding You). The music is by Michael Abels (Get Out, Us, Nope), and the production design is by Christian Snell (Castle Falls), art decoration by William J. O’Donnell (The Hyperions), set decoration by Maria Nay (Mr. Corman, The Right Stuff). Casting directors are Kerry Barden (Spotlight, Winter’s Bone) and Paul Schnee (The Girl on the Train, Clemency).