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I went to see a preview of this film last night and I will say that I enjoyed it very much, although it did drag somewhat in spots. The acting especially by Chris Cooper was very good and he was the spy, and the central figure in this spy thriller. The rest of the cast was adequate for their portrayals. This is a fascinatingg story of Robert Hannsen the spy who rivaled all other spies by handing the Russians the largest quantity of United States secrets. There is not a lot of action in this film but it held your interest throughout the film, because it is based on a true story and the writers enhanced the story and I for one enjoyed it very much. Do yourself a favor and go see this very good spy story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Potential spoilers throughout...
I usually don't feel the need to post comments on IMDb but for this one I did. From the moment we saw the first preview for Breach, we knew we had to see it. Spies, intrigue, mystery, suspense, tangled webs of lies... what's not to like? Unfortunately it was very much a letdown, perhaps made worse by the last movie we'd seen being something as tremendous as "The Good Shepherd."
I have to say Chris Cooper is an excellent actor, but in the lack of context of this movie,his performance seems a little lost. We never quite learn enough about him to empathize. So he is a committed Catholic... but he also films himself having (fairly traditional as far as I can tell, might I add) sex with his wife. And then he asks Eric if a certain porno actress is attractive? He considers himself a patriot, and feels the need to "fix" the system, and seems to look down on Eric's choice of an East German woman for a wife... but he sells secrets. So why does he do it? We never really learn why. At the end, the brief conversation about whether it's ego, or troubled childhood, or whatever else, seems like an easy cop-out. Why throw several potential reasons out there and never really get into any of them?
Ryan Philippe is a relative lightweight and I found it hard to ever buy into him supposedly being such a bright kid. The only evidence you ever really see of this is a thick stack of papers that apparently is some sort of database overhaul proposal. Um, okay... but when his computer doesn't turn on, he feels the need to open the side of the CPU tower and fumble with the drives for half an hour. And for a genius, he sure does type slow... not that these little plot holes couldn't be overlooked with strong character development, but it wasn't there.
I also wondered if it was abnormal of me to somehow feel like 23 hours a day in solitary confinement was too harsh. Anyone responsible for 50+ deaths should be served justice, but the movie just didn't convince me of how terrible his acts really were. I think more time was needed to get into what exactly it was he was doing, rather than to cover it in a 30-second dialogue and spend the rest of the film with silly little twists... using a side trip to the Catholic store as a ploy to get him back in the car? Was that supposed to convince me that he is such a clever guy?
When Hanssen and his wife make their surprise visit to Juliana, and Eric is not home, wouldn't the fact that his wife didn't have the number to his pager tip off Hanssen from the beginning? Obviously it came up because Hanssen immediately mentions the pager as soon as Eric walks in the door, but would his wife really pretend to know about the pager or would she give Hanssen a blank-faced stare that would have given him away immediately?
Oh, and why, in this day and age, would Hanssen ever turn over a film of himself and his wife having sex to Eric on a VHS no less, to mail to Germany? Seemed like a convenient way to get Juliana "read in," Eric freaked out, and something way too stupid for Hanssen to ever do.
I didn't walk out of the theater feeling like this was a complete disappointment and waste of my money, but it definitely wasn't the movie I was expecting it to be. There are so many more spy movies out there that are far, far better than this one.
The performances were all just fine, the story had the potential to be
intriguing, the characterizations ought to have been riveting.
Why then, was this movie so ho-hum? It felt like the director and writers didn't know what story they were trying to tell. Was it a character study of a traitor? No, we don't get much depth on Hanssen. Was it a taut thriller? No, there weren't thrills to speak of, and no real twists or turns. Was it an inside-the-FBI potboiler? No, we didn't learn much about the bureaucracy of intelligence.
At times, there were glimmers of each of these stories, but never any depth on any them. I felt like we skated along the surface of a story that would have been much more interesting viewed from underneath the ice.
I don't recommend spending the time on this, unless you really like looking at Ryan Phillipe. I do, and it still didn't elevate it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I cannot believe the previous posters who actually liked this film! The
beginning is typically slow and what I was expecting to be a
complicated but subliminally powerful and thought-provoking film was
instead very monotonous, pedestrian and uninspired piece
of...film-making. The acting wasn't bad: Chris Cooper is good in
anything he does although he seems to take on the same kinds of roles
("American Beauty," "Jarhead"). Ryan Phillippe isn't THAT bad of an
actor -he's no Hayden Christensen, and Laura Linney is just Laura
Linney like she was working through the wee hours of the night in this
movie. But BECAUSE those caliber of actors were in this film, I felt
interested in watching it through.
My problem was began with the overall plot: the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and this story takes place in 2000/2001. The Soviets weren't the threat that they were back in the 1980s and beforehand, so it makes me wonder if the real Robert Hansenn sold secrets to whomever was really willing to buy them rather than the former Evil Empire. So the writers may have felt that if they fingered the most obvious of bad guys (since the Nazis have been pretty much used-up in movie formulas), it would make a few bucks more as opposed to modern-day terrorists. The "sexual deviancy" problem seemed interesting to me at first when I saw the trailers, thinking that Chris Cooper's character was a closet-pedophile or a chickenhawk or something. Turns out that the guy was just a Catherine Zeta-Jones fan (like most other men) with a weird fetish of videotaping he and his wife having sex. OOOOHH !!! Scary! And at the end when he in fact does get caught, wouldn't the FBI agents want to go ahead and intercept the bag that he left underneath the bridge for the drop? Maybe it was more important to show him in the van admitting his guilt instead. The ending was curt and rather flat, I didn't care at that point. I just felt that I could of had a better time playing "Spy Hunter" for two hours than watching that! I know that there is an audience for this film- reading the previous comments, and seeing the IMDb rating tells me that this film was redeeming in its own special way. Whatever.
I could name half-a-dozen better spy flicks than this. This seems to go into the category with the "Most Un-Inspired Espionage Flicks of the Twenty-First Century". Runner-up to "The Good Shepard/Good German."
This was an interesting movie, and very well-acted. It had to be,
because there was very little action and only a little suspense. Like
the old Columbo" television series, you knew who the crook was right
away. What you didn't know was how the cops were going to catch him.
In this case, the question was how the FBI was going to finally nab Robert Hanssen, the biggest spy in the history of the United States. He finally was caught in 2001 after about 15 years of giving tons of information to the Soviet Union.
Exactly how much damage Hanssen did isn't public knowledge which hurts the film because you never get a real grasp of what a "bad guy" this man was and, hence, you don't feel as satisfied at the ending of the movie as you should. In fact, this film almost makes him look sympathetic at times. I fell into that trap myself a few times, in a way feeling sorry for this man, so well portrayed by actor Chris Cooper. If knew a little more of what harm this man did, there were no sympathy.
Anyway, the acting is superb led by Cooper, of course, as Hanssen and ably supported by Ryan Phillippe as FBI clerk "Eric O'Neill," who brought him down, and Laura Linney as FBI agent "Kate Burroughs," who recruited O'Neill for the job. Those three along with Caroline Dehavemas, who plays Hanssen's wife, "Julianna," are the main characters and dominate the film.
This is a low-key film. Don't look for James Bond-spy-type action and humor. This is the gritty real thing. It's also another "based on a true story" movie so how much of this is true, I don't know. Only the key people involved know for sure. I could see they really wanted to emphasize Hanssen''s strong Catholic beliefs and, naturally being Hollywood, demonize the man for that.
The first third of this film is primarily showing his strong feeling for the Catholic Church and disdain for those aren't are weak ones. The filmmakers subtly put in their agendas by making sure they portray Hanssen as against Liberal causes. The left-wing slants are normal for filmmakers so I ignored those and just enjoyed the excellent acting and interesting story. It's amazing Hanssen got away with what he did for so long. As he himself says at the end, he might have helped at least tighten up our own security by showing how many holes were in it. Hopefully, that has changed. It's equally as amazing that a young kid who wasn't even agent-status could bring this spy down.
In 2001, the FBI clerk Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), who is a
specialist in computer but wants to be an agent, is invited by agent
Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) to work with the senior agent Robert
Hanssen (Chris Cooper) that had worked for many years in Soviet Union
and now is assigned to protect the agency against electronic
infiltration. Kate tells to Eric to write down the behavior of Hanssen
in notes and send them to her since Hanssen would be a pervert under
investigation of his sexual behavior.
Eric works with the bitter and rough Hanssen and he finds a family man and devout Catholic who earns his respect instead of a deviant. Further, his investigation and his relationship with Hanssen and his wife Bonnie (Kathleen Quinlan) affects Eric's wife Juliana (Caroline Dhavernas). Eric tells his opinion to Kate and she decides to tell the truth about Hanssen to him: he is a mole that sold many secrets to the Soviet Union and has compromised the identity of dozens of agents. Eric decides to go on in his assignment despite his friendship with Hanssen and the problems in his marriage.
"Breach" is an engaging and dramatic spy movie based on the true story of an FBI agent that was arrested for spying on 20 February 2001. I bought this DVD many years ago and only yesterday I decided to watch it and I found a great film.
The plot is developed in adequate pace and supported by magnificent performances of Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney. The duel between Eric O'Neill and Robert Hanssen is fantastic. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Quebra de Confiança" ("Fail in Confidence")
Plodding, overly solemn account of real-life spy Robert Hansen (Chris Cooper), who was eventually caught and imprisoned for selling U.S. secrets to its enemies. Hansen was a veteran FBI agent, and in this fictionalized retelling, is assigned a brand new "cadet" (Ryan P.), who is actually there to report on Hansen's comings and goings. Cooper is really wasted in this role, and is given little to do except act paranoid and glum. Ryan P. is too callow an actor to play the one who finally tripped Hansen up. He has all the acting chops of paint drying on a wall. Actually, paint drying on a wall is more dramatic. A stronger actor in this role might have been able to do something with it. But if Cooper, who is a great actor, goes nowhere with his role, I doubt it would have made much difference. Don't waste your time.
I worked on an interview with O'Neill, the FBI agent who brought down
Hansenn (the FBI spy). I am not sure if the interview is available
online as audio, but maxim online did publish part of it. I recommend
checking it out if you enjoyed the movie, or if you are going to see
the movie. It was one of the most riveting interviews I have ever been
a part of.
O'Neill said he felt like an "actor" during the time he spent with Hansenn as "Friends." Unlike an actor, however, he only got one shot at a good performance. The anxiety became nearly unbearable.
Hansonne talked himself up to be a perfect American. O'Neill had to pretend he believed it.
See the movie, sure, but read HIS story: http://www.maximonline.com/articles/index.aspx?a_id=7597
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I couldn't help but feel frustrated by this movie. There were so many
things the characters did that were hard to believe. Ryan Phillippe
does a couple of really stupid things (the briefcase, the videotape)
that you don't have to be in the FBI to know not to do. And then he
goes a-snoopin' on a computer on which he shouldn't--any PC owner knows
that every click of the mouse can be traced. And this guy is posing as
a computer tech?
And why is Laura Linney paging him all the time when she knows he is with Chris Cooper and can't talk? If anything, it would raise Cooper's suspicions.
Of course, all these things are done to raise the tension. But then they felt so contrived, as did the other two big episodes where monkey wrenches are thrown into the FBI's works (the photographer, the car inspection) just to put the hero in harm's way.
And I just couldn't accept Linney in this role. She's good, but it's hard for me to picture a young, beautiful blonde in the role of an FBI head. And FBI agents' wives are supposed to know going in that there are some things their husbands can't tell them, so Caroline Dhavernas' dis-ease about his actions was also hard to accept.
I really liked Chris Cooper a lot. Overall, I think the movie is well done. But it's hard writing a story about something where everyone knows what happens in the end before the movie begins. A lot of the action here just seemed so formulaic, and left me ultimately wanting more substance and more imaginative writing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was just okay. Nothing to scream about. It was not boring
but that's not exactly an endorsement.
The problems? In their first meeting, Robert asks Eric to tell him five things about himself, and make one of them untrue. Eric does this and Robert can tell which one was a lie. Obviously he's quick and smart and knows how to read a person. He's also committed major indiscretions and gotten away with them for years, so he's no dummy. He might be stupid, but he's no fool. With that in mind, it seems fairly unrealistic for me to believe that Robert was not onto Eric the entire time.
Telling the entire story from Eric's point of view also does not allow you to get into Robert's motives at all. You end up not really knowing why he did what he did. Not even a little. A confession scene of some sort would have been nice, if only to give him and the audience a chance for some much-needed insight.
I didn't have a problem with the acting, though I am not entirely sure Ryan has the acting chops to pull off a character like this. Chris Cooper has them, in spades, but the movie lets him down. I did enjoy Laura Linney, a lot, and she has some funny moments too.
Like I said, nothing offensive, but nothing really memorable either. 5/10.
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