Break Image


By Alan Ng | April 22, 2024

COMING TO THEATERS! Honestly, I can’t get enough movies about the game of pool. It has to do with the fact that anyone (no matter the shape or size) can play. Also, the elite players make the game look cool. As such, I am the perfect mark for director Will Wernick’s pool hustling feature, Break, written by Wernick, Dikega Hadnot, and Spencer Mandel.

Darren Weiss stars as Eli, a young man working two jobs to make up for a deadbeat dad who left years ago. He’s the breadwinner of the family and supports his single mother and autistic sister. While hanging out with his best friend, Cheese (Caleb Emery), and the pretty Millie (Braedyn Bruner), Eli gets suckered into a game of 8-ball, exposing how great a player he is… just like his father. Looking to recruit Eli is Draper (Victor Rasuk), who happens to be a player at his father’s old pool hall called The Loving Tough, run by the street-smart Hattie (Patricia Belcher).

Wanting to make some quick cash, Eli pool hustles, with Draper staking him in every game of 9-ball he can find. Eli gets off to a successful start. All is going well until he runs into his father’s old nemesis, Jimmy (Jeff Kober), who wants to finish Eli off in the same way he did his dad. Egging Eli on with stories of his loser dad, Jimmy pushes him to his limits and challenges him to a high-stakes game. Getting involved in a revenge game with Jimmy proves to be Eli’s downfall, as he loses more than just a large sum of cash.

What pool movies have in common is a lot of fast action of balls going around the table and a protagonist that gets in way over their head. Break is no exception. Wernick gives us a lot of dynamic pool play. He’s got a good eye for capturing the skill of the game blended with the fast action it requires to be good at it. For anyone who has played seriously, pool is like a game of chess requiring a high command of the laws of math and physics.

Egging Eli on with stories of his loser dad, Jimmy pushes him to his limits…”

The screenwriters then build a solid story to support the action about a young man avenging not only the bad memories of his MIA father but of the man who chased him out of town. Our sympathies lie in the fact that Eli didn’t ask for any of this and he must balance running from his father’s reputation with supporting his special needs sister. The addition of his love interest, Millie, and Eli’s drug of choice — the game of pool — means we’re off to the races quickly.

If you’re not familiar with pool, Break is a great first film. The game requires a cool head and excellent concentration, and you’re only as good as your ability to control the pressures of life. Weiss gives Eli a great deal of sympathy, and we feel his struggle. His puppy-dog eyes for Millie are so sweet that we just gotta root for these kids.

For those who are familiar with it, you’ve seen this before. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t worth a watch. The plot foreshadowing is obvious. Wernick brilliantly pushes Eli so far into the corner that he’s like a scared animal. Eli’s plight is hopeless as he loses everything he loves, but the story resolves quickly and often off-screen. You want that third act to breathe a little rather than feel like a series of fortunate coincidences.

As someone who played too much pool in college, I’ve been starving for a good pool hustle movie. Break is just what the doctor ordered. Now I’ll have to pull the old cue out of storage and lose a grand or two in the process.

Break releases in theaters on Friday, April 26.

Break (2024)

Directed: Will Wernick

Written: Dikega Hadnot, Spencer Mandel, Will Wernick

Starring: Darren Weiss, Victor Rasuk, Jeff Kober, Caleb Emery, Patricia Belcher, Braedyn Bruner, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Break Image

"…just what the doctor ordered."

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