“Breaking” tells the powerful story of Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley (Boyega), who was denied support from Veterans Affairs and turned to taking an Atlanta bank hostage in 2017. In the trailer, Boyega is an apologetic bank robber who threatens the staff with a bomb. The late Michael K. Williams plays an officer determined to talk Brown-Easley down; Connie Britton also stars as an operative tasked with diffusing the situation.
Formerly titled “892,” “Breaking” premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is distributed by Bleecker Street. The ensemble cast also includes Nicole Beharie, Olivia Washington, and Selenis Leyva. The film premieres August 26.
In real life, Brown-Easley let everyone besides two bank employees flee the building and told police he had no intention of robbing the bank; he just wanted the $892 owed to him by the VA.
Directed by Abi Damaris Corbin, who also co-wrote the script with Kwame Kwei-Armah, “Breaking” marks one of the final roles for “The Wire” icon Williams, who died in September 2021. “Breaking” is Corbin’s feature directorial debut.
Corbin was inspired to tell the story of Brown-Easley onscreen after reading Aaron Gell’s article “‘They Didn’t Have to Kill Him’: The Death of Lance Corporal Brian Easley,” published in 2018.
“It broke my heart,” Corbin told The Los Angeles Times earlier this year, citing her own father’s veteran status in the “broken system” for veterans in the U.S. “I saw in it a reflection of my dad’s story. He’s gone through a lot of the struggles with the VA that are threaded through Brian’s story and I knew that story had to be told.”
Boyega shared his own connection to the true story.
“I was shocked that I hadn’t heard of what happened to Brian and I was moved by his story and the drama of the circumstance,” he told the Times. “There’s definitely an emotional weight playing somebody that has existed who has had to live a tragedy in order for you to play him. The story is really [about] the isolation and betrayal that comes with serving your country and then coming back home to no opportunity or true help.”
The “Detroit” actor added that it was “epic” to star opposite legendary actor Williams.
“I’m really glad I got the chance to work with him, especially in his last days, and see his artistry,” Boyega explained. “[He was] very positive on set. A good, bubbly guy. And at the same time just effortless with his humility.”
“Breaking” is produced by Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, and Mackenzie Fargo. Executive producers include Josh Bearman, Josh Davis, Arthur Spector, Simmons Frazier, Abi Damaris Corbin, Kwame Kwei-Armah, William Greenfield, Sam Levinson, Harrison Huffman, Jarrett Turner, Katia Washington, Max Goldfarb, Moudhy Al-Rashid, Aaron Gell, John Boyega, and Femi Oguns.
Check out the trailer below.