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Breakdown Review

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Alfie Jennings (Craig Fairbrass), a member of hitman contingent Homefront, finds his life falling apart after he begins to see visions of the people he has killed on previous missions.

★★★★

Jonnie Malachie’s directorial debut opens with Alfie Jennings cruising the brightly lit streets of London in search of an answer to existential questions. Jennings is damaged from years spent as a contract killer, teetering on the edge of a catastrophic mental breakdown and tormented by visions of those he has tortured over the years.

[Fairbrass'] hard work is frustratingly undermined by those around him and a script that tries to cram in far too much.

Outwardly your average family man with an out-of-the-ordinary job, Alfie’s 15 year-old daughter Maya (Amanda Wass) is blissfully unaware of her father’s vocational escapades. His desire to protect the teenager from future complications sees him teaching her to hunt and training with weaponry, though her gun-based aptitude is a source of constant frustration for her mother.

Alfie’s demons finally overcome him at the worst possible moment, during an important contract kill that sees him embarrass his ex-Army Major boss Albert (James Cosmo). With his family now under threat, Breakdown spirals into a pool of clichés and never manages to drag itself out.

The everyman gangster mould fits Craig Fairbrass like a glove, but his hard work is frustratingly undermined by those around him and a script that tries to cram in far too much (Maya’s sexual awakening; an unnecessary final showdown) and ends up overstuffed. Bursts of unapologetic violence may turn off some viewers, but they do arguably match Homefront’s unremorseful principles.

First-time director Malachie never quite settles on what type of film Breakdown is, eschewing a genuinely interesting yarn about mental instability in favour of a muddled revenge plot that throws too many subplots into the mix. By the time you reach its finale, you’re quite honestly past caring.

This could have been far more interesting had it spurned the well-trod revenge route to focus on the less clichéd tale of a hitman struggling with a breakdown.

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