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Reviews & Ratings for
Breach More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Cooper is amazing, the story is taut and good

Author: secondtake from United States
2 January 2014

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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Could have been great if only they elaborate it more

Author: johnny-08 from Rijeka, Croatia
13 May 2008

"Breach" of Billy Ray is based on a true story about Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Hanssen works for 25 years in FBI but he becomes suspicious so head of the FBI sends young Erika O'Neilla (Ryan Phillippe) to supervise Hanssen. Erik is hired as Hanssen's secretary and he must earn his confidence and actually become his friend.

Ray's first movie ("Shattered Glass") is also based on a true story just like this one. Here Ray takes maybe too big bite for him. Experienced director would make this movie even better cause here we are only given scraps. The whole betrayal of Hanssen should have been presented in much bigger way. But even without that "Breach" is recommendable movie with great Chris Cooper in main role and with solid support from Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney.

Also it reminds of magnificent "Donnie Brasco". Both Depp and Phillippe characters must become friends with the man they trail and actually enter in their world; so their wives suffer who don't know nothing about that (Heche/Dhavernas). Of course "Donnie Brasco" is much, much better movie but I felt those connections. There is inevitable initiation of Russians again and at the whole end director makes weird. He shows Hanssen as religious man and one of the last lines when they meet in the elevator (what are the chances?) is: "Pray for me." After Hanssen asks that in tears, Eric replies: "I will." That last lines surely never happened in real life but they needed a movie ending and I think most of people will feel a bit sorry for Hanssen. Actually his biggest crime isn't that he betrayed his country (like most of people think); his biggest crime is that people were murdered because of his acts.

If you can, watch this movie to learn something about so called 'one of the greatest security breaches in U.S. history', or because of Chris Cooper or just because you've got nothing better to do on Tuesday evening.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

May disappoint some...

Author: CrenshawPete from NewYork, NY
10 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, I'd like to say that this is a decent movie, but those who go in expecting something along the lines of Syriana, Munich, or Spy Game will likely be very disappointed. This film is actually much closer to Donnie Brasco, but not nearly as good. In Breach, the "how" and "why" are never explained. If you want to know the answers to those questions, then you're probably better off getting a book on the subject because they won't be answered here. In fact, the movie begins only months before he is captured, and no Russian contacts are ever seen. One major problem I had was that Mr. Hanssen is portrayed as a two-dimensional villain. This is partly due to the failure to explain *why* he did it. He appears almost comically evil, while the executed Russian KGB defectors are implicitly regarded as the unfortunate good guys. However, reality is never black-and-white. Yes, what he did was terrible, but the Russians would regard their defectors as the evil ones and Mr. Hanssen as the good guy. Again, I'm not condoning what he did, but I think the writer/director should have been more impartial in their portrayal or Mr. Hanssen because the real story is certainly more complicated than is shown here. 3.5/5

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Certainly not one of the best spy movies ever, SPOILERS below

Author: blindtiger_xxx from vancouver, bc
22 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is tedious. The interaction between Ryan and Chris's characters respectively is boring. With the introduction of his character, Hanssen is sharp and demanding, catching Ryan's newbie clerk in lies with ease. Later he accepts stories you wouldn't accept from a child, and ultimately confides in him. This is tough to swallow. For 15 years he spied , was elusive, smarter than the best in the country at what they do and we are to believe he is brought down by this lapsed catholic. There is some blame in the acting , but actors have to work with what they are given. the scene between Linney and Ryan in her apartment, comical, they don't believe the writing they are reading, and they seem to be reading, other than dropping fed jargon afew times, the dialog is flat, and thats at its peak. the story between the Juliana , and Eric is terrible, her in agony over her east German origins smacks of pandering to the LCD, she should have been holding a puppy , i forgot if the music peaked as well? stay home, Wikipedia has a better article, or if you feel like a spy movie 'based' on a 'true' story rent Syriana again , or for the first time. Ebert and Roeper are off their ass if this a got two thumbs.

This movie , isn't a well formulated edge of your seat thriller, is not a interesting character study with many levels, what it is and was is boring.

maybe the most insightful piece of writing was the acknowledgment of both men, that back story or why (motivation) is unimportant, but it may have been helpful here.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Well written and played... And based on true events

Author: Bene Cumb from Estonia
13 October 2012

As we had a similar case in Estonia some years ago (, it was interesting to watch this movie - and I found lots of similarities between the Hanssen and Simm cases: making fuss about petty things and strict relationships with subordinates, for instance. The plot is intense, all actor are good or great (beginning with Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillipe, whose mutual dialogs are full of intensity and exactness). Even if you know the result, it is fascinating to monitor the events leading to this solution.

However, it is still awkward how a person with such experience (Hanssen) was not suspicious in his new job and new room; a "contra-cam" could have disclosed already initiated investigations.

Well, recommended to those fond of "silent spying".

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Cooper Excels And Makes Breach Soar

Author: Desertman84 from United States
9 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Breach is a historical drama film directed by Billy Ray. The screenplay by Ray, Adam Mazer, and William Rotko is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia for more than two decades, and Eric O'Neill, who worked as his assistant and helped bring about his downfall. Chris Cooper and Ryan Philippe star in this fact-based drama concerning the FBI traitor who carried out what many historians refer to as the most notable national security breach in U.S. history.

A key member of the FBI's elite Soviet Analytical Unit, Robert Hanssen (Cooper) would, for 15 years beginning in 1985, sell thousands of pages of classified documents to the Soviets. After making roughly 600,000 dollars on his clandestine endeavor and compromising everything from the identities of KGB spies working for the American government to nuclear war contingency plans, Hanssen was eventually transferred to a newly created position at the FBI's Washington headquarters and assigned the task of guarding his country's most sensitive secrets. It was while working in this capacity that a young agent named Eric O'Neill (Phillipe) was assigned the task of keeping tabs on Hanssen by suspicious higher-ups. Later, after being arrested while delivering a cache of secret documents to a "dead drop" spot in a Virginia park, the notorious traitor was arrested and sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.

Powered by Chris Cooper's masterful performance, Breach is a tense and engaging portrayal of the FBI's infamous turncoat.He is the is the principal reason why this unspectacular, low-key study of the Hanssen national security fiasco is so effective.The movie soars because of it.

Aside from that,it is an espionage thriller which focuses on strong character development, performances and setting that it feels so realistic and far from being contrived.

Overall,it is an enjoyable, slow-burning thriller with an intelligent script that it should be classified as a must-see.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Movie for lovers of intrigue, spies and good cinema.

Author: psagray from Spain
8 August 2012

When aspiring FBI agent "Eric O'Neill" (Phillippe) is assigned as a companion to the veteran "Robert Anisen" (Cooper), of the Agency, this has reason to believe that valuable information is going to the Soviets. In order not to arouse too much suspicion, one of the supervisors of the case (Linney) tells "Eric" that his mission will be to monitor "Hanssen" because he is a sexual pervert.

No chases, no gunfights, and lots of action, however this movie has you for two hours glued to the screen wanting to know more The viewer will catch the atmosphere of mystery, of redemption and disturbing sensuality, through a great script served wonderfully by a cast exception. All do very well, all offer memorable moments, from the always great Chris Cooper Ryan Phillippe rookie, going through the brief interventions fraught with tension, no less, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert and Kathleen Quinlan, who has excelled in the splendid film "Far from Heaven" 2002.

There are scenes of great tension and intrigue as the film is superb. The further the story, the more the viewer feels immersed in the plot. As to the end, you could say it's no surprise since the beginning of the film already sensed the outcome, but hey, it could not be otherwise, because remember that this film is based on real events. It is a highly recommended film for lovers of intrigue, spies and good movies.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Watch This Movie

Author: owhanee from United States
23 May 2011

Chris Cooper is brilliant. The screenwriter and director have done a very good job of storytelling in one of those situations where you have seen the TV Newsmagazine treatment and you know who did it and how it ends. (spoiler alerts not applicable for this one.)

This movie has a very strong cast including Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Ryan Philippe, Gary Cole and Kathleen Quinlan - who all give their usual solid interpretations. But to me, Cooper stands out with a truly memorable performance, pardon my cliché.

Watch this movie if, like me you passed it over because you had seen it in the news. The suspense, detail and different angles of perspective will amaze you.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A look into the darkness of the CIA

Author: reneweddan from United States
4 October 2010

A film that draws interest into one of the most infamous CIA breaches in American history. What else could you ask for? With Dennis Haysbert, you know you're in good hands.

Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, and Laura Linney (she's amazing) all put on a great performance to convince the viewers they clearly portray their characters. The script is creative and fresh, this isn't just another espionage film, it's history.

It might be hard, but it's best to hold off on the Wikipedia, but some names you might want to look up afterward are Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, as well as O'Neill.

I absolutely adore this film, the fact that it's based on a true story allows one to give it time to set up the plot before it dives in head first with tons of suspense and a story that seems too intense to be true.

Enjoy this film, then remember the names and know your piece of American history. There are two sides to every story and this is the darker side of America's story.

Enjoy it, it's a great watch, a movie you will be forced to concentrate on because of how it entices you more after every minute.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A good spy thriller

Author: freemantle_uk from United Kingdom
18 September 2010

In 2001 one of the America's biggest leaks was plugged when a senior FBI intelligence officer Robert Hanssen was arrested for selling secrets to the Soviet Union and Russia. His betrayal lead to 50 operatives being found out and some of them being killed by the KGB. Breach is story about his downfall in the space of two months.

Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillppe) is a young ambitious, counter-intelligence/counter-terrorism specialist who wants to be become a Special Agent. Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) gives him the chance to be fast-tracked by assigning him the mission to work with Hanssen (Chris Cooper), a senior agent who had been an expert in counter-intelligence against the Soviets and now a computer expert and leading the FBI's efforts against cyber attacks. Hanssen is also accused of being a sexual deviant. But when O'Neill starts to investigate he believes the story does not fit: Hanssen is a committed Catholic, a member of Opus Dei, a Clinton hater and he does come up with good points against the politicking and tuft wars within the American intelligence community. But when O'Neill is told the real reason why the FBI want to bring Hanssen, O'Neill has to get the evidence and keep his friendship to bring the Russian mole down.

The story, style, tone and character development of the film reminded me of Donnie Brasco, a crime film starting Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. In Donnie Brasco Depp plays a FBI agent who has to infiltrate a Mafia family and ends up becoming a friend the head of the family. In Breach O'Neill is placed in Hanssen's office as his clerk and the older man ends up becoming his mentor. Also both film sharing a similar subplot that both protagonist home lives suffer because of their careers.

Billy Ray writes and directs Breach with skill. In a 1 hour 40 minute running Ray makes a tout, fast-pace and subtle film. There are no big action set-pieces in the film and all the actions conducted by the FBI and O'Neill are real, like O'Neill downloading information from Hannsen PDA, making the film more tense. The look of counter-intelligence was realistic and will interest anyone who enjoys a good spy film. But Ray's may aim is to show the relationship, the trust between the two leads and how it takes it told on O'Neill. Ray employs Mychael Danna to composer a key-low score, wonderfully simple at times with a someone just playing the piano, adding to the subtle nature of the film. But Ray does surrender to some typical Hollywood moments: most of them happen in the ends so I won't spoiler it for you but you will know. The scene where Hanssen's car was dismantle was very similar to the scene in The French Connection.

Acting wise Phillppe and Cooper are not Depp and Pacino. Cooper is a solid actor throughout and makes sure is grounded, coming up with good points about American Intelligence, but to me a lonesome Republican nutcase. But Phillppe is not a great actor: there are flash of talent like when he argues with his wife but other times his performance is pretty standard at best. The film also cast Caroline Dhavernas, a French Canadian actress to play a German character and well, her accent was too faint and did not sound German. The best performer was Linney as the bitchy FBI agent who softens up in the film and plays her role with real conviction. Plus the film has Dennis Haysbert in it and he is a definition of cool.

Overall a very worthy enjoyable film with a few minor problems.

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