| July 24, 2012

Secret Service agent Jeremy Reins, played by Stephen Dorff, has his work cut out for him in the movie Brake. He has been working detail protecting the President of the United States, but now he finds himself trapped in a clear box, which has been stuffed into the trunk of a car. He doesn’t quite know how he came to be in this predicament. All he knows is that he owes someone money, and he figures that he has been drugged and kidnapped in order to pay off his debt.

But this is not quite the case, as the movie unfolds and Jeremy discovers that he has been kidnapped by terrorists who are demanding that he gives up the “Roulette,” or secret bunker location, where the President would go in the event of an emergency.

Jeremy has taken an oath of secrecy, and he is not about to share the whereabouts of this location—come hell or high water. And water or liquid is just one of the materials used to scare Jeremy into submission. All this is happening, while Jeremy is communicating with a number of people, all whom he believe are trying to help him. Included in the mix are a cell phone operator who is trying to use GPS to figure out his exact location; and his estranged wife, Molly, who is relaying that she is also—where else—but in a box in the trunk of a car. Then there’s Henry, who tells Jeremy that he has been kidnapped and placed in a box in a car trunk, also.  All this, while some obscure person is driving like crazy and a digital counter is counting down to zero; each time Jeremy thinking that a bomb will be detonated to end his life.

While the movie is called Brake, I just wanted the action to stop and for it all to end, because it was getting monotonous too quickly. The back and forth between Jeremy and Henry is painful, as I tried to figure out whether Henry was a plant (as if he might have been working for the terrorists) or whether he really had been captured and confined to a trunk. The dialogue between Jeremy and his estranged wife is labored, at best, because they hadn’t heard from each other in many months, and now she’s saying that she is being held hostage. And the inept cell phone operator just added to the confusion.

But in my haste to figure things out, I learned that I hit the brakes (no pun intended) too quickly, because there was an exciting twist at the end. Right as the counter seems to finally run out, and I had just about given up on what I thought were 90 minutes of pure boredom, Brake redeems itself. Veteran actor Tom Berenger, playing a seasoned Secret Service agent, shows up to rescue Jeremy and this movie. Right at the brink of monotony, Brake finally delivers, and all the players become known, and, to my surprise, the game excitedly starts up again.

Brake is available on Blu-ray and DVD July 24 from IFC Films. Visit for more information.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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