Movie Review: Breach – Starring Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe

Download Breach via Amazon Instant VideoMovie: Breach (PG-13)
Released: February 16th, 2007
Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.
Ticket Price: $5.00 Early Matinee
Refreshments: Red Vines
Starring: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney
Director: Billy Ray

Rating: Worth a Full Price Ticket –

Synopsis: Based on the true story of convicted spy Robert Hanssen, who was found to have sold secrets to the Soviet Union. Eric O’Neill is an expert in surveillance at the FBI who dreams of one day becoming a full fledged agent. He gets assigned to work with the legendary Hanssen and finds out it is his job to help catch him in the act of selling classified information.

Review: Breach is a slow moving but very solid dramatic spy thriller. The trailer would lead you to believe there is a bit more action and pace to the movie. It does, however, do a good job of building the suspense even though you know going in that they catch him in the end. Once you get used to the rate at which the story unfolds you are gripped by the cat and mouse game being played out.

It is based on Eric O’Neill’s account of the events leading to the take down of one of the worst traitors of all time, Robert Hanssen. Ryan Phillippe (Flags of Our Fathers, Antitrust) plays O’Neill, who was tasked to work for Hanssen, played by Chris Cooper (Syriana, The Bourne Identity), and helped to bring him down. Now a lawyer, he consulted on the movie and was very happy with how things turned out. The movie follows the final stage of the long investigation that caught Hanssen in the act and lead to his conviction.

Ryan Phillippe does a great job of portraying the young up and comer surveillance expert who is thrown into the biggest treason case the FBI has ever investigated. He is a guy in over his head but who sticks it out because of the importance of what he is doing. Trying to balance family life and a boss who may be the worst traitor in U.S. History. The pressure he must have been under during that time had to be unthinkable.

Chris Cooper is outstanding in his portrayal of Hanssen. From the outside he looked like a god fearing, church going family man but underneath was sadistic, perverted and brilliantly evil. Cooper quietly conveys all these layers and more with an intense skillfulness. Hansen was a dark and sinister man who basically did it because he could.

The supporting cast is superb as well. Laura Linney (Man of the Year, The Life of David Gale) as Agent Burroughs who has given her whole career and life to bringing this man down. Caroline Dhavernas (TV’s Wonderfalls) as O’Neill’s wife who is worried and just wants to know what her husband is involved in. When you add in Gary Cole (TV’s The West Wing), Dennis Haysbert (TV’s The Unit) and Bruce Davison (X-Men) you have one exceedingly strong cast.

Today is just a couple days shy of six years from the day the FBI arrested Hanssen making a drop of classified materials on Sunday, February 18th, 2001. If you are in the mood for a drama with some suspense, great acting and a true story, then it is worth making a drop yourself. Of some cash on a full price ticket that is. You won’t be disappointed.

What did you think of Breach? Leave a comment with your short review.

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Jason of New Movie Friday
1 comment… add one
  • Winn Feb 24, 2007, 7:34 am

    I saw this movie on it’s opening weekend. The trailers that I saw on the Net and via TV made one think that the genre of the movie was an action/spy thriller. However, it was not so. Rather, it was a well acted drama about a brilliant man lost in the morass of living a double life. Only clues were given to why Hanssen did what he did.

    Overall it was an enjoyable portrayal of the story leading up to Hanssen’s arrest.

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