Breach (2007)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Crime, Drama


Breach (2007) Poster

FBI upstart Eric O'Neill enters into a power game with his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was put on trial for selling secrets to the Soviet Union.


7/10
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  • Chris Cooper and Billy Ray in Breach (2007)
  • Caroline Dhavernas in Breach (2007)
  • Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper in Breach (2007)
  • Chris Cooper in Breach (2007)
  • Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper in Breach (2007)
  • Billy Ray in Breach (2007)

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2 January 2014 | secondtake
7
| Cooper is amazing, the story is taut and good
Breach (2007)

The big arc here is the uncovering of a spy within the FBI, based on a true story. And that's interesting. But the movie works because of the mental and emotional sparring between the two leads.

First is the spy, Robert Hanssen, played brilliantly by Chris Cooper. He pulls off the brilliance and eccentricity you might get with this kind of person, and all without stagy exaggeration. This is a spy and a spy story worthy of John Le Carre.

Next to him is the young FBI worker, not yet an agent, Eric O'Neill, played by Ryan Phillippe. He's excellent enough to support Cooper, for sure, though he (maybe by necessity) is a more bland type. His struggle with why he (of all the FBI people possible) has been given the huge job of bringing this other man down is key to his depth.

Both men have wives, and both women are good—Hanssen's wife is played by Kathleen Quinlan and though we don't see her much, she's really good. And generally the cast supports this chilling, dry, steady intrigue.

In other ways, the movie is a bit conventional—professionally made, you might say, but without stylistic distinction. It's no breakthrough masterpiece. But what it tries to do telling this story it does with spare, direct force. This is no adventure tale —there is no real action. But that's good. It's compelling and interesting.

Since this is "history" or "based on truth" it's worth saying that only the large facts are followed. All the fun movie stuff—the meeting of the wives, the pistol shooting in two scenes, the sex stuff, and so on—are all invented. Apparently life is either too dull or too dangerous to really put on film.

But that's okay. It's a strong story. And Cooper steals the day.

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