Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In this movie ‘Breaking Point’ we meet Angela (Kenya Brome), a very pretty woman who is minding her own business trying to take care of her baby when there’s a knock on the door. I’m thinking this is New York City, I’m guessing Angela lives in Harlem or thereabouts, and I’m observing that Angela has enough locks and chains on her apartment door that the Incredible Hulk would have trouble getting in which raises the question ‘Why doesn’t Angela look through the peephole?’ Whatever the reason, it matters very little right about now as Angela is greeted by her dead Super and her psychopathic former pimp Al Bowen (Busta Rhymes) who informs us that he has been looking for the woman for a while now. Bowen’s colleague in thuggery, Richard (Kirk Jones), excuses himself from the scene since its clear this situation doesn’t call for four grown men with guns to brutalize a 115 pound woman and a baby, so he’s out. Angela gets her throat slit, baby gets tossed out a window. Not cool.

Across town say hello to Steven Luisi (Tom Berenger). Steve is a lawyer, used to work for the D.A., until his drug problem did him in, which also caused the death of his wife and child, and his dad is dying. Steven has a crap life. Steven’s problems deepen when he misses the court case of one of his clients which has this client released back on the street, and now this client is arrested on suspicion of the double homicide we just discussed which makes the justice department look real bad. This client, Gregory Fixx (Dyron Holmes), was just trying to see his girl, the murdered up Angela, which places him at the scene. He informs Steven of this and tells Steven that his baby is missing and begs his help in finding this child.

On the periphery in this movie there is Assistant D.A. Marty Berlin (Armand Assante) who is going to try the Fixx case as he prepares for his run for District Attorney. Berlin’s pretty assistant Celia (Musetta Vander) is one of Steven’s best friends, tries to look out for him, and has observed that Marty seems out to get him. In particular Marty wants Steven off of the Fixx case. But why? What does an Assistant D.A., a brutal pimp, an ex-high school football star and a crack pipe loving lawyer have to do with one another? Well… all will be answered in good time. More or less.

Somewhere… somewhere under the swooping camera’s, the lush omnipresent musical score, the stockpile of melodrama, the beautiful cinematography created by people who obviously love the city of New York and a simply spectacular performance from Busta Rhymes is a good movie trying to force its way its way out from beneath this movie ‘Breaking Point’. It did not make it… but it sure was trying.

The first question I guess, and the main problem with ‘Breaking Point’, is what in the world is this movie trying to be? It begins with Tom Berenger’s character lamenting his crap life, flashbacking to better times with his daughter with added flashbacks of his old man whipping that ass. Adding to the melodrama are scenes of the district attorney (Robert LuPone) dealing with his dying wife with all of this taking place against a rather syrupy string filled musical score which may have you believing you’re about to watch a relationship based drama. Then we cut to the scene of abject brutality as delivered by the character of Al Bowen and his crew and now it’s looking like a gritty crime drama. This movie was at its best as a crime picture by the way. Then the movie cuts to the courtroom and becomes a Law and Order style procedural drama with that splitting off into a political corruption thriller. None of these varying elements overpowered the other with each seemingly given equal weight which led to none of them getting explored fully which ultimately led to plot confusion and plot holes. Either the movie needed to be an hour longer, which we would never recommend, or something needed to get dropped.

The shame in this is that there are some really good things going on in this movie, most notably Busta Rhymes as we pointed out earlier. This is the first time I’ve seen Mr. Rhymes in anything outside of a music video or an interview, and I don’t know if he can really act… meaning I know don’t if he’s leaving the set of ‘Breaking Point’ and heading to off to do ‘King Lear’ but he sure was effective in this. He was great in this. He was nightmare inducing in this. Kirk Jones was also very effective playing off of the character of Al Bowen, but we’ve seen Kirk Jones in quite a few things so this was more or less expected. Frankie Faison was very good as distressed judge, Armand Assante does what Armand Assante does saving his true skills for the end of the movie and Cinematographer Emmanuel Vouinozos painted pictures with his lens that looked like brand new money.

Then there’s the curious case of Tom Berenger. We were kind of raised on Tom Berenger so you know we love us some Tom Berenger… but Tom Berenger as a distressed, crying bowl of emotional jelly isn’t necessarily putting one in Mr. Berenger’s wheelhouse. ‘Sniper’, ‘Fear City’, ‘Platoon’… there are some things as an actor that Mr. Berenger does really well. Being emotive isn’t one of those things. When Robert LuPone was crying like a sissy I believed those tears to be real. When Tom Berenger was trying to cry like a sissy, it wasn’t working. It looked like a house cat trying to smile

‘Breaking Point’ just didn’t work on an awful lot levels, considering it was trying to hit so many different levels. There are some really good things in this movie… Busta Rhymes… we can’t stress this enough… but not enough works for this to be classified as a successful movie in my opinion.

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