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Reviews & Ratings for
Breach More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: between_the_fps
13 August 2007

What is most striking about this wooden delivery of god awful writing horrible directing w/ laughable mise-en-scène is the high rating. (this movie has a similar rating as Syriana which is superior on every level.) this is TV movie caliber junk telegraphing obviousness on every level. i just don't get it. look at the Bourne series -- jerky garbage with a high rating i get it mediocrity rates mediocrity high.......but superior movies are similarly rated? mediocrity pulls intelligent movies down....i can sit here for an hour bottleneck tail boss you boys are killing me you have to get back in the truck what a shock i lied to you sir there isn't any construction what would you do that for because i need your help catholic information center religious bs sells to dummies i guess yehaw the intelligent agent buys this inane dialogue? no way. a state of affairs yawn..................

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding True Life Spy Thriller

Author: dglink from Alexandria, VA
17 February 2007

With such prestige pictures as "Gosford Park" and "Flags of Our Fathers" on his resume, Ryan Phillippe continues to carefully select projects and can proudly add "Breach" to the list of his accomplishments. Based on a true story that took place in the nation's capital only a few years back, "Breach" details the entrapment of master spy Robert Hanssen, who irreparably damaged the country's security over many years and today languishes in a federal prison. The story is told through the eyes of Eric O'Neill, an FBI agent who is recruited to work as a clerk for Hanssen. O'Neill, well played by Phillippe, observes, records, and reports every movement and detail of Hanssen's life to a team of agents who are eager to catch the spy during one last information drop. Laura Linney plays the agent who is the liaison between O'Neill and the team. An actress who rarely falters, Linney is outstanding as the career woman who wears pants, eats TV dinners, and does not even have a cat for companionship.

However, the center of this tautly made film is Chris Cooper as Hanssen. Complex beyond description, Cooper's Hanssen does the near impossible in turning an unlikeable traitor into an almost sympathetic human being. Hanssen is loved by his grandchildren, while he betrays U.S. contacts to the KGB, who execute them. He devoutly attends Mass and Confession, while secretly filming himself and his wife having sex and mailing the tapes overseas. He loves the Andrew Sisters, hates women in pants, and keeps an arsenal in his trunk. Unfortunately, the film never provides a motive for Hanssen's actions or treason, and his sexual peccadilloes go unexplained as well. How he rationalized the crucifix in his office with his subversion is a mystery that may likely die with him. Ironically, the smiling face of former Attorney General Ashcroft beams down on Hanssen's desk while he betrays his country. The problems that plague Phillippe's character at home are better illustrated. O'Neill must keep his work secret even from his wife, which becomes increasingly problematic as Hanssen invades their home not only via work, but also with his proselytizing for Catholicism.

With three fine performances, a perhaps-too-tight script, and crisp direction by Billy Ray, "Breach" is engrossing film-making. However, viewers who were intrigued by the film will rush to their Internet connections to Google up the answers to such dangling threads as the fate of Hanssen's family, the references to Hanssen's "sexual deviance," and the motivation for his betrayals. Despite minor quibbles, "Breach" is the rare adult film of quality to be released early in the year. Perhaps its surprising appearance bodes well for the rest of 2007.

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9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

conversation starter

Author: pepperbooth from United States-Pa.
17 February 2007

This movie was interesting because it guided you into the minds of the trader as well as the betrayed.The movie was fast paced and flowed well without a lot of unnecessary dialog typical of a "based on a true story" movie.It was an interesting look into our government and the human ego at the same time.The writers did an excellent job of finding a way to show how many people were effected on so many levels and in so many varying ways.The surprising thing is that you end up feeling compassion for everyone including the very person responsible for so much pain. Everyone is guilty of something. This movie makes you think back to "that thing you did wrong" and question your motivations.A real thought provoker as well as a debate starter! I think this movie is great to see with your mate, friends,as well as family.(worth my $7.75)

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15 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Lack of Depth leaves little insight

Author: kgprophet
20 February 2007

Buoyed by some decent reviews, and having been a fan of Chris Cooper since "Matewan", I was ready for a good espionage thriller. I was mistaken, this is more a standard drama, with little effort to give much depth to his life or his capture. Instead, it concentrates most of the time on the Mentor/Student relationship O'Neill is assigned to fill. By the third act, little intrigue has been generated, and we are left with O'Neill's torn life of living undercover done better in "The Departed" or "Donnie Brasco". Even for what the movie does concentrate on, Hanssen's secret perversions and paranoia, you are left with little explanation at the end. Would it have hurt to get a few extra scenes of Laura Linney putting together the vast Hanssen case, all those 50 investigators uncovering the worst espionage case in U.S. history? Instead, it's O'Neill's wife's displeasure of being married to a (potential) FBI agent.

Cooper's acting is fine, but is still trapped in a narrow view of the two months leading to his arrest. A mundane office, with mundane hallways, in a mundane federal building. How did he get in contact with the Russians? There are only blips of back-story. Those who remember Cooper in a similar role in "The Bourne Identity", there is no sense of danger in Hanssen's character, just a man slowly being caught in his own web.

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The Looking Glass War

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
6 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"America's state religion is patriotism, a phenomenon which has convinced many that 'treason' is morally worse than murder or rape." - William Blum

"Breach" stars Chris Cooper as Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who spends two decades selling state secrets to the Soviet Union. In an attempt to gather incriminating evidence against Hanssen, the FBI assign agent Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) to work undercover as Hanssen's clerk.

"Breach" oozes Sigmund Freud. It finds Hanssen betraying his nation because he believes that it is responsible for his anonymity and impotency. Like an ignored son, Hanssen thus lashes out, desperately clamouring for "daddy" to notice him. Of course "daddy" - The Big Other qua Nation State – eventually does. Not tolerating any other avenues of power beyond its own, the United States Government promptly crushes Hanssen.

The film's Oedipism extend to O'Neill. O'Neill comes from a long line of government foot-soldiers, a calling he initially rejects. But feeling that he has betrayed both the state-as-father and his literal father, O'Neill eventually joins the FBI. In short, O'Neill does the State's bidding in order to ingratiate himself with a "daddy" he feels he has abandoned, whilst Hanssen betrays the State because he feels as though "daddy" has first abandoned him. Elsewhere the film delves into Hanssen's obsession with both Catholicism and sex, the former a form of guilty penance, the latter a feeble means of asserting control.

"Breach" isn't as good as the best "undercover" movies ("Serpico", "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold", "Donnie Brasco", "Army of Shadows", "Molly Maguires", "The Falcon and the Snowman", "Prince of the City" etc). It's too apolitical, too scared to question blind fidelity to Western Super Imperialists and their federal bodies. Indeed, "Breach" ends with text reminding us that Hanssen's leaks led to "government assets dying", a bit of emotional blackmail whose interrogation a better artist would make this film actually about. The film's stance is particularly timid in light of recent revelations surrounding full-spectrum, global surveillance; the United States now deems all of its citizens guilty of defacto treason.

On the level of psycho-drama and character study, however, "Breach" is excellent. Cooper is fascinating as Hanssen – simultaneously creepy, pathetic and endearing – and the film remains quietly engrossing throughout. Caroline Dhavernas co-stars as O'Neill's clichéd "uppity wife".

7.9/10 – See "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold".

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compelling work from Cooper

Author: SnoopyStyle
6 December 2015

It's two months before the arrest of Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) for espionage in 2001. Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is ambitious, desperate to be an FBI agent and married to Juliana (Caroline Dhavernas). He is assigned by Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) to investigate senior agent Hanssen who is a computer expert, former Soviet analyst and a suspected sexual deviant. Hanssen is lured back to headquarters in a new division and O'Neill is inserted as his assistant. Hanssen is arrogant and looks down on his superior Rich Garces (Gary Cole).

Director Billy Ray's first film "Shattered Glass" is one of the few films that Hayden Christensen is actually good in. I think that's not an accident. Chris Cooper is terrific and Ryan Phillippe is not that bad either as an eager beaver. The trick for Ryan is to portray a smart guy who still falls for Hanssen. I also love the unflashy style for the FBI setting. It has the feel of reality. The muted colors fit the icy tension and a cold-hearted espionage case. The flash comes from the actors and the relationships they build. Chris Cooper deserves some recognition for his work here.

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Real Life Spy Thriller…Chris Cooper Anchors the Intrigue

Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
23 October 2015

Low-Key, Matter of "Fact", and Extremely Subtle Telling of the Last Days of FBI Traitor Robert Hanssen with Chris Cooper Giving a Riveting, Universally Praised Performance in Director Billy Ray's Followup to the Underrated and Equally Good "Shattered Glass" (2003).

Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney Add Support but it is Cooper's Film Hand's Down. He Manages to Chill and Attract Sympathy for a Manipulative and Hypocritical Turncoat that Sold Out His Country on Misguided Principles, the Money was Secondary.

The Real Soviet Expert and FBI Spy was a Mentally Disturbed Individual No Doubt and Cooper Brings that Dementia to the Screen with a Stare that Disarms.

Eric O'Neill the Newly Assigned Clerk Sent in to Keep a Watch on Hanssen, is Played by Philippe as a Naive Newbie Who Learns Quickly (he must for survival) What it Takes to Steer the Always On Guard Advisory and it Mainly Involves Family and Religion.

Overall, This is an Insider's Account of an Internal Investigation and it May Seem Dry at Times with Virtually No Action, but Suspenseful and Mysterious. It's the Characters and Dialog that Move the Movie and in That Regard it is Compelling and Never Boring.

Note...Robert Hanssen made much of the "Turf Wars" and lack of inter-agency cooperation throughout his career. This proved prophetic in that was considered one of the main reasons for the failure of America's Intelligence Agencies to foresee the 9-11 attacks.

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Underrated Espionage Thriller Based on the Capturing of Real-Life Double-Agent Robert Hannsen

Author: classicalsteve from Oakland, CA
17 January 2015

How do you catch a spy? Very carefully. In this case, the spy worked for the FBI. So, lure him back to the agency and claim he's being "promoted". Also, to add to the mix, give him his own assistant. This is how Robert Hannsen, possibly the most notorious double-agent who spied for Soviet/Russian intelligence was eventually caught.

The film begins in the early days of the George W. Bush presidential administration. John Ashcroft is the new Attorney General, head of the Department of Justice, and the FBI resides under that department. Robert Hannsen is brought back to the FBI and told that he is assigned the task of overseeing the technical side of FBI security. He is given an assistant, Eric O'Neill, who, unknown to Hannsen, is a counter-intelligence operative working undercover. O'Neill's task: to monitor Hannsen. Later, he learns the full truth: Hannsen is perhaps the most notorious of spies who traded US secrets to the Soviet Union/Russian State for over two decades. Will O'Neill be able to simultaneously play dutiful but clueless assistant, while trying to uncover the secrets about Hannsen?

A good film, which is slightly different than the real story, but mostly on the mark. Apparently, O'Neill knew from the beginning about Hannsen, although in the film, he doesn't find out the whole truth until near midway through. Also, there were several very interesting episodes involving Hannsen prior to his "surveillance" which would have been very interesting to include, such as the recognition of Hannsen's voice on a tape included in a package from a Soviet informant that the government played $7 million for. (An excerpt is played in the film.) Still an excellent film, with highest marks going to Chris Cooper as Hannsen.

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Breach Is Full of Mystery!

Author: g-bodyl from United States
3 November 2014

Breach is a wonderful, slow-burning thriller based on the worst breach in American history. It also goes along well as a cat-and-mouse thriller between the undercover FBI agent, O'Neill and the suspected man himself, Robert Hanssen. Even though the film is a work of fiction, it provides lots of information about the actual events, and I learned a lot that way. The film goes a good job in building up the tension, despite knowing exactly how the film is going to end. The film is well-acted and provides a strong script.

Billy Ray's film is about an FBI agent named Eric O'Neill who desperately wants a promotion and he seizes his chance when he is tasked to get close to a senior agent named Robert Hanssen who has also been labeled as a sexual deviant but it is also believed he is selling secrets to the Soviets. While undercover, the task proves to be hard as O'Neill begins to grow fond of the man and is facing issues at home because of his new boss.

The film is well-acted especially from Chris Cooper who gives a tour-de-force performance as Robert Hanssen. Cooper gives a strong amount of a cunning and untrustworthy personality and it gave me the creeps sometimes as I felt he could see through O'Neill's identity. Ryan Phillippe gives a good performance as the young O'Neill who eventually became a hero of the FBI. Laura Linney also does well as the stern, no-nonsense boss of O'Neill.

Overall, Breach is a chilling story depicting the worst espionage any American have committed in history. It shows just how vulnerable our secrets can be, especially in the wrong hands. I like how the film also turned into a deep character study focusing on the Catholicism of Hanssen. This is a fantastic film, although it's a bit of a slow burner. I rate this film 9/10.

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Strong performances saved this for me

Author: juneebuggy from Canada
29 September 2014

This was pretty good for such a dry, slow-burning movie, it drags at times but still manages to keep a level of tension and suspense going throughout and I id end up really enjoying this. Ultimately it was the strong performances from both Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe that saved this for me.

Cooper is intense and creepy here displaying a range of mystique. Laura Linney as his handler was quite bitchy. Ryan plays an FBI Trainee who is assigned to keep en eye on a fellow agent suspected of selling information to the soviets. Its his first real case and initially he's not even sure what he's looking for. 7/17/14

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