In February, 2001, Robert Hanssen, a senior agent with 25 years in the FBI, is arrested for spying. Jump back two months: Eric O'Neill, a computer specialist who wants to be made an agent is assigned to clerk for Hanssen and to write down everything Hanssen does. O'Neill's told it's an investigation of Hanssen's sexual habits. Within weeks, the crusty Hanssen, a devout Catholic, has warmed to O'Neill, who grows to respect Hanssen. O'Neill's wife resents Hanssen's intrusiveness; the personal and professional stakes get higher. How they catch Hanssen and why he spies become the film's story. Can O'Neill help catch red-handed "the worst spy in history" and hold onto his personal life? Written by
For the film, the production team wanted the audience's point of view to be Eric M. O'Neill's point of view - one in which O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) starts off in the dark about what was really happening with Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Through dramatic license, director Billy Ray ensures the key piece of information is held back from O'Neill until halfway through the film, when O'Neill finally confronts Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) about the real reason for his assignment. See more »
When Eric looks at the Internet history on Hanssen's computer, one of the URLs displayed uses incorrect syntax: "www.church/democrats/clinton.com". The slash character is invalid in a top level domain name (www.imdb.com for example). However, this simply means the URL was incorrectly entered, which is also maintained in Internet Explorer history. See more »
Sunday, the FBI successfully concluded an investigation to end a serious breach in the security of the United States. The arrest of Robert Hanssen, for espionage, should remind us all, every American should know, that our nation, our free society, is an international target, in a dangerous world.
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Chris Cooper, already an established actor, gives the performance of a lifetime as Robert Hansen, the FBI agent arrested for 25 years of espionage against the United States. Cooper convincingly portrays the smugness, cockiness, and "holier than thou" attitude which eventually (in my eyes) led to Hansen's downfall.
The movie is tense and moves swiftly without compromising the story line. Ryan Phillipe is equally impressive as the young FBI employee who is brought on to earn Hansen's trust and find out what made him tick.
This is a must-see - I saw it with about 100 people ... and from what I heard, almost everyone was still talking about it afterward as they walked out and in the bathrooms - and all were great comments.
Definitely an early Oscar contender for 2008 in my opinion.
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