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When the Bough Breaks Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall

When the Bough Breaks

Genre: Thriller

Director: Jon Cassar

Cast: Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Romany Malco, Michael K. Williams, Theo Rossi, Jaz Sinclair

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: September 9th, 2016

This weekend, sales the new drama Sully dominated at the box office. The film, healing which was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks, sales showcases the heroics of Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger.

In early 2009, Sullenberger was piloting a plane over the Hudson River when a group of birds collided with the engines. The aircraft was nearly disabled but the captain — working alongside his co-pilot — saved the day. The duo saved all 155 lives on board by making an emergency water landing on the Hudson. The film captures his heroic actions — which were criticized after the fact by bureaucrats and government officials — and shows that this seemingly everyday man became a hero when people needed him.

Considering that the film earned one of the highest-opening weekends ever recorded in September, one can hope that Hollywood will follow suit with similar fare. There are brave heroes doing incredible work every day so we decided to take a look at 5 modern-day heroes who deserve their own movies.

Chris Mintz: Military heroes are often accustomed to saving lives on the battlefield, not in the classroom. Chris Mintz was different though. After his Army service, Mintz saved lives during a shooting at an Oregon community college. During the attack in late 2015, Mintz didn’t run away from the threat. He ran towards it, saving lives in the process.

As The Washington Post reported, “As many fled for their lives, the 30-year-old former Army infantryman found the gunman and confronted him at a classroom door, hoping to save those who were inside.” The hero was shot five times but miraculously survived. In the midst of such a tragic event, Mintz emerged as a hero who was willing to put his life on the line to save others.

Ryan Pitts: In mid-July of 2008, Ryan Pitts wasn’t on a beach somewhere or relaxing with his friends. He was serving in Afghanistan and facing off against an army of insurgents. According to The Washington Post,Shortly after 4 a.m. on July 13, 2008, at least 100 insurgents opened fire on a new patrol base and nearby U.S. observation post, each manned by U.S. soldiers.” Pitts was in the middle of the battle.

The Post noted that despite being wounded himself (by grenade shrapnel), he fought on crawling “from position to position in the observation post, refusing to give up the high ground there even after fellow U.S. soldiers were killed.” Pitts helped save lives during the attack and went on to receive the Medal of Freedom from President Obama.   

Josh McGill: Can a bear hug save a man’s life? It seems possible after hearing about Josh McGill’s actions in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting this summer. McGill was at the Orlando nightclub the night a psychopath decided to attack it.

He survived the attack but instead of running away from the nightclub, he stayed to help others. McGill assisted a stranger who had been shot multiple times. The two eventually found officials on the scene but McGill stayed with the wounded man. As The Washington Post reported, “When they made it to the police, an officer had McGill lay down in the backseat of a car with the bleeding man on top of him. McGill was instructed to give him a bear hug and keep him conscious.” The stranger turned out to be a bartender who was shot three times but ultimately survived.

Brad Ludden: Heroes can emerge even from everyday circumstances and Brad Ludden proves that. Ludden is a kayaker who, according to, watched as his aunt faced cancer at the age of 38.

He understands the horror of the disease and created a nonprofit called First Descents. According to CNN’s profile of Ludden, the organization “offers free outdoor adventures based around kayaking, surfing and rock climbing…[During each week-long camp], 15 young adult cancer fighters and survivors from across the country come together to challenge themselves physically and bond with others who’ve gone through the same battle.” Ludden’s camp has let young people in tough circumstances celebrate nature and the bonds they share in an environment that empowers and encourages them.

Paris Train heroes: There were three American heroes who stopped a terrorist attack on a train last year and they are each deserving of their own film but a great movie could be made about the three friends who worked together and lived countless lives. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler were travelling in Paris when they stopped a gunman from opening fire on a train.

According to, “The three, along with a British man, Chris Norman, rushed the alleged attacker, who authorities believe is a 26-year-old Moroccan man flagged by Spanish authorities in February 2014 because of his connections to radical Islam.” The attack was prevented by these men who reacted immediately to the threat and saved lives. The three men were rightly praised as heroes by French leaders and American officials, who applauded their heroic efforts.

Looking for some patriotism on the big screen? Click here for a list of 10 great movies about American patriots.
There are smart characters who make terrible decisions in movies and then there are characters like John Taylor in When the Bough Breaks. Here is a character who is happily married, capsule
rich and successful. Despite that, he continually makes reckless and terrible decisions to the point where you question his intelligence and sanity.

Played by Morris Chestnus, John is one half of a beautiful young couple who unfortunately can’t bear children of their own. His wife is Laura (Regina Hall), a woman who has suffered through three miscarriages and years of trying to have her own child. Her emotions are real and poignant. “You actually start to hate your own body,” she says tearfully to Anna Walsh (Jaz Sinclair), a young woman who has offered to serve as a surrogate for the couple.

The issue for the Taylors though is that Anna is a psychopath. Beneath her friendly smile and naïve personality, she’s a monster. After Anna’s fiancé attacks her, the Taylors offer her a home with them during the duration of the pregnancy.

When Anna is left alone with John, her jealous personality comes to life leading him into trouble. Being a reasonable adult with a strong-headed wife and a child on the way, one would think that John would talk to his wife about Anna’s erratic behavior. He doesn’t. When he finds out about her past, one would think that John would immediately cut ties with her. He doesn’t. When he realizes what he’s up against, one would think John would start thinking clearly. He doesn’t.

Time and again, John makes obvious mistakes that any reasonable person would’ve avoided. Director Jon Cassar, who previously directed fifty-nine episodes of the original 24 series, was at the helm here and he tries to create a slow-building tension between the three main characters. He does a wonderful job capturing Laura’s state of mind — Hall’s performance is the best aspect of this film — but he fails to keep all of the plot pieces together here. Laura disappears on and off during the film’s second half and when she does appear, she seems clueless about how her once friendly relationship with Anna has transformed into something much darker.

The script by Jack Olsen doesn’t help as it repeatedly relies on John’s undeniable naivety and stupidity to make sense. This feature would’ve been a lot shorter if John started acting as reasonably intelligent after Anna starts obsessing over him. Instead, the plot relies on him making one mistake after another and not realizing how instane Anna has become.

It also doesn’t help that the climax of the film is relentlessly over the top. When Anna finally confronts Laura, the circumstances are beyond outrageous. In order to get there, the plot asks you to believe unbelievable things (Why did no one smell a dead body next door? Why aren’t the police involved earlier?).

This movie won’t hold up to the similar fare we’ve seen in this genre before. Movies like Fatal Attraction (1987) offer a similar plot — crazy woman becomes obsessed with a married man — but at least that one offered a somewhat-reasonable plot and original elements. When the Bough Breaks is a tired addition to the genre, which is quite disappointing considering that Regina Hall does a fine job in her limited time onscreen.

Review by: John Hanlon

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