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Breach
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Reviews & Ratings for
Breach More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Mesmerizing!

8/10
Author: rbrb
3 March 2009

This film had me engrossed throughout. It is an intense drama yet exhibits a subtle restraint throughout.

Robert Hanssen worked for the FBI and was apparently a devout family and religious man. In truth he was the worst spy in history and betrayed his country, wife and family.

The portrayal of Hanssen by the actor Chris Cooper is mesmerizing and brilliant.

The true life Eric O'Neill had the task to help capture Hanssen and likewise that portrayal is done superbly.

The whole picture has a realism and ring if truth about it as does the screenplay.

Deserves at least 8/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Gripping spy film dominated by only one of the leading duo, sadly - 78%

7/10
Author: Benjamin Cox from Hampshire, England
18 February 2009

Having been signed off work for a week by the doctors, I figured that now was as good a time as any to make myself watch all of "those" DVDs. You know the ones, the ones you buy because you wanted to get three for £20, the sex scenes were especially explicit (if you're that sort of viewer) or because you heard it got good press coverage from somewhere. Personally, I have no idea how this movie got into my collection - my sole recollection of this movie in the UK was a poster in a bus-stop somewhere - so imagine my surprise to discover a tense, well written and apparently true story. Here's hoping the rest of the week goes as OK...

Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is a young ambitious FBI recruit who dreams of making it as an agent. A specialist in surveillance and computing, he is assigned to assist senior FBI agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) who's a veteran of 25 years, a devout Catholic and devoted family man. But after initially befriending Hanssen, O'Neill is shocked to learn from his boss (Laura Linney) that the reason behind his appointment is to uncover evidence of deviant sexual practises and computer imagery. As O'Neill struggles to maintain his cover, it becomes apparent that Hanssen is guilty of crimes much bigger than he was originally suspected of...

As a UK citizen, I was completely unaware of Robert Hanssen so I would have preferred John Ashcroft's statement at the end as opposed to the beginning. But that doesn't detract from what is essentially a masterclass from the usually underrated Chris Cooper as the double-life leading Hanssen - he is truly mesmerising, making the rest of the cast (who aren't exactly a bunch of nobodies either) look dull and two dimensional. "Breach", once it actually gets going, just keeps getting tighter and taunter but unlike most spy films, this has no explosions or car chases, no sunny locations or fisticuffs. True, a lack of budget didn't help with this but the film doesn't need any of that Jerry Bruckheimer nonsense. The fireworks are between the characters instead of lighting up the scenery and for once, it made quite a refreshing change. It not only feels authentic but looks it as well - not surprising as the FBI and the real Eric O'Neill supervised behind the scenes.

With a stronger supporting cast and a better opening 30 minutes then I could sit here and tell you that "Breach" is one of the most criminally underrated movies of the last ten years. What I will tell you is that while "Breach" may have been overlooked, it deserves to be looked at again. Here is a film with a small cast, smaller budget but a storming story and a brilliant lead performance. It's just a shame that the others were a let-down, none more so than Phillippe who appeared as if he's just another Hollywood pretty-boy paying the bills. This could very well be one of the best written and authentic spy films in history but the supporting cast is weak or underused (what was the point of Dennis Haybert's character?) and the pacing need tuning at the beginning. But assuming your local rental store has it (or has even heard of it) then find a copy and what you'll find is a cracking spy flick and evidence that Cooper, normally a supporting man himself, can lead a movie himself.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

How To Catch A Spy

8/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
28 November 2008

When you think of spy movies, your mind automatically goes to the James Bond type of fiction, with fancy gadgets and lots of action and danger and adventure. That's not the case with "Breach." Based on the true story of FBI agent turned Russian spy Robert Hanssen (played brilliantly by Chris Cooper) the movie offers an entirely believable (partly because of the lack of Bond-esquire thrills) account of how Hannsen was eventually captured. Hanssen's story is an interesting one. A zealous Roman Catholic, somewhat disgruntled by not having accomplished more, he's "promoted" by the Bureau to head a fictitious department, for the sole purpose of setting him up to be captured by teaming him with a young FBI operative named Eric O'Neil (Ryan Phillippe) whose sole purpose is to gather evidence on him. Phillippe did a good job in this part, torn in several directions - looking for recognition from the Bureau, somewhat sympathetic to Hanssen, disturbed by the effect this work is having on his marriage. The focus on the movie is really on the human side of both Hanssen and O'Neill, and there's not much actual "spying" that goes on. To me, that human focus made this far more compelling and, although it's somewhat slowly paced in places, I never once lost my interest in it. It really is a powerful movie. 8/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Your FBI at work, and after only 20 years of traitorous leaks, they bust the case. Chris Cooper is superb

8/10
Author: Terrell-4 from San Antonio, Texas
6 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What do you do with an FBI traitor who for 20 years was feeding serious secrets to the Soviets and then to Russia? If you're the FBI, you don't follow up on tips about the guy, you don't get curious that his expensive life style doesn't match his FBI salary, you ignore his extensive, private hetero kinkiness even though a murmur about homosexuality would get another person booted out the door, and you sure don't want to look too hard and then find a scandal on your hands like the CIA's Aldrich Ames.

It was in 1979, three years after he joined the FBI, that Robert Hanssen started his career as a spy. It wasn't until 1999 that it occurred to the FBI to look closely at Hanssen. At one point, concerned about the possibility of a mole in their midst, the FBI actually had Hanssen investigating any possible moles within the FBI.

Don't look for FBI culpability in Breach. The movie barely alludes to all this, yet this is the real story of Robert Hanssen. What we have, instead, is a genuinely fascinating story of the final hunt to nail Hanssen, the hunt for evidence that would stand up in court. To get that evidence the FBI, finally on the job, sends in Eric O'Neill, a young man without much experience to be Hanssen's gofer. The hope is that Hanssen will not see this fellow as a threat and may let down his guard. If the FBI is going to nail Hanssen, they need to catch him in the act of sending classified information to the Russians. Without this, the best they can do is fire him. It's no spoiler to say that Robert Hanssen was arrested in 2001 and is now serving a life sentence in a high security prison, restricted to solitary confinement 23 hours a day. Eric O'Neill did his job.

That outstanding actor, Chris Cooper, plays Hanssen. It's a magnificent performance, stuffed full with intelligence, arrogance, suspicion, threat and conflict. Hanssen is not a likable guy, but he's shrewd and smart. The contest between Hanssen's deep suspicions toward anyone and Eric O'Neill's odd combination of apparent naivety and resourceful quick thinking keeps the movie, for the most part, speeding right along. The one real weakness is Laura Linney as O'Neill's boss. It's an unnecessary part and just seems to sit there as a way to feature a star name who can be used now and then for some plot exposition. As much as I like Linney, every time she's on screen I'm reminded that I'm watching a Hollywood movie. That goes for some of the secondary parts, too. The movie needed faces we'd never seen before, except for Cooper. Instead there are too many vaguely familiar Hollywood faces, such as Gary Cole, Dennis Haysbert, and Kathleen Quinlan. They all do good jobs, but their familiarity is distracting.

Ryan Phillippe as Eric O'Neill gives a first-class, nuanced performance. O'Neill is not thrilled with what he's called upon to do. He can't tell anyone, including his wife, and she's not happy with his long and erratic hours. It's a dangerous, high stress job and the man he's trying to catch is no dummy. Phillippe holds his own with Cooper. It's unfortunate that he has one of those youngish, generically handsome faces. He's a good actor, and I think his looks get in the way of critical appreciation of his skills. The movie stands or falls on the actor who plays Hanssen. Chris Cooper is so good and so believable it's a pleasure to sit back and lose yourself in his performance. He's been memorable is so many movies, but one of his best performances (and a favorite of mine) is in Lone Star.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A True Story Adapted very well On screen with a powerful narration

9/10
Author: hardrock666 from India
3 August 2008

Writer-turned-director Billy Ray has a fascination for non-fiction, real life stories. After skilfully depicting the true story of a journalist, who fell from grace when it was discovered he had fabricated over half of his articles, in his directorial debut "Shattered Glass", Ray trains his camera on another true story in "Breach".

His second directorial venture is based on the true story of a senior FBI agent Robert Hanssen who was arrested for spying in February 2001. It is considered the greatest security breach in the US history.

Most of the story is set in a FBI office and involves two main characters - Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) and Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillipe). The USP of the film is the director's grip on the script and the main characters. Not even for a moment do you feel bored. As the story progresses, tension mounts too. "Breach" is comparatively slow in speed and there aren't too many characters, but keeps the audience engrossed.

The story goes like this - Eric O'Neill, a computer specialist who aspires to be made an agent, is assigned to clerk for Hanssen, but his real job is to keep an eye on his boss and write down all his activities and pass it on to Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney.) Initially, O'Neill's is not aware of the whole truth. He is told that the security agency is investigating Hanssen's sexual habits. Though Hanssen and Eric's first encounter is not so pleasant but within weeks, Hanssen warms to O'Neill, who grows to respect Hanssen.However, O'Neill's wife hates Hanssen's bossiness and intrusiveness. As the day passes the tension in O'Neill's personal and professional life shoots up. How he manages to trap Hanssen leads to the climax of the film.

Playing real-life character is not an easy job but Chris Cooper's flawless performance makes it an interesting watch. He portrays Hanssen with such finesse that one starts seeing him as the real culprit. The film is also benefited from Ryan Phillipe's performance. Although Linney doesn't have a big role, she impresses.

When a well-known incident is adapted, it is not easy to hold the viewers' attention, but Ray's narration is certainly attention-grabbing. In short, worth a watch.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Layers of deception

Author: (futures@exis.net) from Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.
25 March 2008

"Breach" (2006): This is the true story of Robert Hanssen, the most damaging spy in U.S. history (caught only in 2001, after decades of covert action). Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, and Laura Linney star in a taut, increasingly tense depiction of the events and people involved in this recent, important episode of American history. Like other governmental spy stories ("All the President's Men" comes to mind), there are layers of deception fighting layers of deception – and finding Truth becomes highly questionable at certain points… but, since this is real life, there IS a flawed person, and they DO get caught. HOW is the interesting part.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Well acted, decently suspenseful ...

7/10
Author: vram22 from United States
5 February 2008

I liked this movie mostly because of the acting, characters and the story. Everything was pretty good so it kept the movie interesting through to the end. Given the story, I can easily imagine how it could have been very boring. Credit, I feel, must go to the director, the choice of actors and their performances.

We watch the movie from the point of view of an ambitious young FBI employee. He accepts an assignment to work with and report on a veteran FBI agent suspected of spying. Over time, he begins to question whether the agent is really doing what he is suspected of ...

This is not an "action" spy thriller, but rather a character-based movie. It is good and builds suspense until the end. If you're looking for an interesting, decently suspenseful drama with great acting, this movie is a good choice.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a little long but still entertaining

6/10
Author: MLDinTN from TN
28 January 2008

This movie was pretty good, but could have been 20 minutes shorter. It tells a true story of how a top FBI guy was brought down for selling secrets to the Russians. The FBI recruit a young Eric O'Neil to be Robert Hanssen's assistant. He is to write down everything that happens in Hanssen's office and is used to get Hanssen out of the office when necessary. O'Neil begins to like Hanssen. He sees Hanssen as a very religious man with a happy marriage. He finds it hard to believe Hanssen is a spy, but when shown evidence, he knows Hanssen is just great at telling lies. We also see some of O'Neil's home life. His wife is not all that thrilled with him being an FBI agent. O' Neil is shown as the hero because he convinces Hanssen to make a last drop. I wonder if that part was true.

Good acting by all. Laura Linney always seems to be convincing in every role.

FINAl VERDICT: The plot sounds boring, but it really isn't. I say give it a try.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

solid espionage movie

7/10
Author: disdressed12 from Canada
11 January 2008

i thought this was a well done movie.it moves along at a good clip.it's never boring,and it was much more straight forward than i expected it to be,making it easy to follow.this is a movie that i didn't find overly compelling,but more than enough to maintain interest.there isn't a lot of suspense or tension.we are shown at the beginning how the movie will end up,but it is interesting seeing how it gets to that that point.that's a credit to the good writing.but i think it the acting in this one that really elevates it.Chris Cooper was terrific as usual.but Ryan Phillippe really impressed me here.i thought he was outstanding.Laura Linney was good as well,although i wish she had been given a more substantial role.all things considered,this is a low key movie.it won't blow you socks off or anything,but it works.i would watch this movie again,as i found it interesting.for me,Breach is a solid 7/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

the end of a spy

7/10
Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
11 January 2008

I am not a great fan of true stories on screen, but I had the opportunity of seeing a few good ones lately. Besides 'Zodiac' here is another film where reality gets even with fiction in providing characters that can be on screen as fascinating as they have been in real life.

The complex character of the top Russian spy infiltrated in the CIA and reaching the top of the hierarchy is splendidly acted by Chris Cooper. His combination of border-less ambition, cleverness, religious fervor, manipulation and fear is unique. If there is such thing as the role of a life Cooper may have realized it here, and the only thing I can wish him is to be able to equal this performance in future movies. Besides him Ryan Phillippe looked to me slightly mis-cast, a little too young for the key operative who is infiltrated near Hansen in the final stages of the investigation. He is not bad, he is certainly an actor to be followed but does not rally fit well in the movie. The rest of the cast is OK, the director rightly focuses on the relationship between the two and especially on Cooper's character rather than on the technical details of the investigation, and doing so succeeds to make a focused and catching film, above the average level of the typical spy stories.

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