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Was looking forward to watching this film , and don't get me wrong it
delivers well with good acting in both main roles and has a very good
script. It casts some of my favourite stars from the Bourne movies.
But to be honest , I thought it lacked suspense and could have done with a more dramatic finish. As I said in my summary a good build up with some "your going to get caught - get the hell out of there scenes" but from the middle to end it drys up a bit.
My g/f fell asleep which isn't at all normal when watching this kinda movie! Worth a watch but certainly not the best American Government Thriller out there.
On the plus side, a magnificent central performance from the great
Chris Cooper, solid support from the likes of Laura Linney, Dennis
Haysbert, Caroline Dhavernas and Kathleen Quinlan. On the minus side, a
plodding, sometimes toe-curlingly clichéd, script that provides little
insight into the motivation of the USA's most destructive spy. Without
an actor of Cooper's calibre in this role the entire project would have
foundered. As it is, it is almost sunk by the casting of Ryan
Phillippe, whose role of Eric O'Neill provides the movie's primary
point of view.
It is probably true that most young actors would have their work cut out not to seem diminished in the shadow of Mr Cooper, but poor Ryan flounders even in his domestic scenes with Ms Dhavernas. Mr Phillippe is a type of actor - Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are two other notable examples - who seem incapable of moving beyond impassivity in front of the camera: no inner life reaches the audience. It's almost as if they're scared of over-emoting in case they look hammy.
In a lot of movies it's not a problem - Keanu Reeves has done very well with this technique, mainly choosing vehicles for himself that suit his limited expressivity. And Mr Phillippe himself has pulled through on other occasions: as part of the group of soldiers at the heart of Flags of Our Fathers, his persona was adeptly deployed by Clint Eastwood to embody the clean-cut decency for which he seems to have been cast in Breach. But in Breach a much wider range was called for: Eric O'Neill is a spycatcher, who has to tell lies convincingly to fool his quarry. Layers of complexity are called for. Mr Phillippe is not up to providing them, nor in filling the yawning gaps left by the script.
In short, a largely dull film rendered memorable by the remarkable Chris Cooper.
Disappointing. With the exception of Chris Cooper's stand-out central
performance this film struggles to define itself. Presumably, since we
know the outcome of this 'thriller' at the outset it's less of a twisty
whodunnit than a moral study. Two men work together in a relationship
defined by deception, paranoia and hanging onto crumbs of a priori
truths to get them through...
Well, it could have been good but the script's limp so all else crumbles around it. I like the photography that stresses the asceticism of winter Washington and the anonymity of the buildings inside and out - but the drama linking this existential wasteland to the men is scuppered by the weak dialogue. I blame Billy Ray squarely since the direction of the film has the same issues. Take, for example, the business of a painting showing two men in a boat. It's a whacking great symbol for mutual survival (I recalled the slogan on President Josiah Bartlett's desk in the West Wing: "O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small") but it has less importance to the director than so many other details dwelt on in the film that have no interest other than to embellish the narrative.
Cooper is marvellous. He succeeds in giving a highly sympathetic performance but leaving us in no doubt that we are witnessing the documenting of a creep. Ryan Phillippe lacks gravitas or stillness - Crash is still his best showing in a middleweight career. Laura Linney is hung out to dry and Dennis Haysbert is superfluous. 4/10
For years, I'd heard about various things that the Federal Bureau of
Investigation had done, whether going after John Dillinger, or spying
on political dissidents. But until reports about Robert Hanssen came
out in early 2001, I would have never guessed that an agent had gone
all the way to sell secrets to the Soviet Union.
So, the story gets brought to the screen in "Breach". We first get to see rookie agent Eric O'Neill (Ryan Philippe) learning about the FBI's inner workings. He then gets to meet his superior, Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Hanssen is an egomaniac who doesn't like women wearing pant suits ("We don't need any more Hillary Clintons!"). Despite Hanssen's nearly hostile attitude, O'Neill quickly grows to respect him as much as possible.
That's when the catch comes. Not only does another agent (Laura Linney) identify that Hanssen spent many years spilling secrets to the USSR, but Hanssen starts invading O'Neill's life, undermining his marriage. It becomes clear that this will probably lead up to something ugly.
I thought that this was a very well-done movie. Watching it, one gets a feeling of how unpleasant it must be to work in the FBI; in the movie, it always seems like everyone's ready to stab each other in the back. Cooper turns Hanssen into a chilling, amoral lunatic, the sort of man who could at any moment break you in half. Philippe turns O'Neill into a young man uncertain of how to make his way in the world of espionage, especially with the unctuous things going on. Also starring are Dennis Haysbert and Bruce Davison.
The one downside is that we never find out why exactly Hanssen betrayed his country.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Breach is a concise drama based on a junior FBI agent Eric O'Neill's
(Ryan Phillippe) rolethe movie spans only two monthsin catching
notorious FBI traitor Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) in 2001. Hanssen
sold secrets to the Soviets for 22 of his 25 years while he worked in
intelligence within the FBI, but this version of his story (there are
at least two books and a decent made-for-TV movie as well) shortens
it,there was not much wrong with most of what I got; I just wanted m
and this is both this movie's strength and weakness.
The movies begins with O'Neill being chosen seemingly out of the blue to work undercover watching Hanssen while posing as Hanssen's clerk. Phillippe is convincing as O'Neill, who is bright, ambitious, and very conscientious. O'Neill is also Catholic like Hanssen, who quickly notices this, and it becomes obvious that O'Neill is the kind of all-American, idealistic young man whom Hanssen will not be threatened by, making him a perfect choice to spy on Hanssen. O'Neill is not initially told the real reason for spying on Hanssen, only that Hanssen is a sexual deviant and that he has harassed female underlings. O'Neill naturally feels frustrated at being taken off of a career track pursuing actual foreign terrorists to pursue a middle-aged, mid-level manager sexual deviant within the Bureau. He does get a clue that there may be more to his assignment than meets the eye, however, when he is given a special pager that only his real boss, played by Laura Linney, can page him on and is told to note everything he can about Hanssen every day and send the reports to his real superiors. Something more serious than sexual harassment is clearly going on.
Hanssen, as ably played by Cooper in yet another troubled man role, is a mass of contradictions: he preaches to his underling about prayer and saying his rosary daily while Hanssen has been taping himself and his wife having sex and mailing the tapes to a friend. Of course, Hanssen's biggest contradiction is his espionage, Hanssen having sold huge amounts of valuable information to the Soviet Union for some $1.4 million in cash and diamonds, much of which he gave to strippers he befriended, though this is not part of this movie.
I like this kind of movie: the expose of the inner workings of a secret and powerful organization, the intrigue that a story like this carries with it, and the feeling of being on the inside of something very very exclusive. It's fun, in a perverse sort of way, to watch bad things happen to the smug inner circle of the intelligence world and feel morally superior to the traitor who is betraying his country as well as to the devoted officers who are betrayed by the traitor and by their own overmuch devotion to their own careers, which are now called into question by all the damage done by 22 years of a mole in their midst.
The movie is paced well. While not exactly speedy, the movie does move us along with all due speed towards the inevitable end of Hanssen's career (and his life as he knew it), and the elements of the movie--the lighting, editing, and casting--all hit their marks. It is set during the winter in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia, and everything, including the drab office interiors, are cold and gray. Hanssen even wears all black during his capture and arrest. On one hand, I liked the focused approach to the story-telling, but on another I wanted more background about the main characters: I left the movie wishing I had seen more of the story unfold so I could feel more the gravity of Hanssen's betrayal and his contradictions. Instead, because of the brevity of the story and the point of view taken to tell it, I merely heard about all the things that Hanssen had done in an interview O'Neill has with his boss. I was told rather than shown. I wanted a movie but got mostly snapshots or, more accurately, descriptions of snapshots. This is a very good movie, but given the gravity of the events and the depth of the deception, I wanted more than just good snapshots.
Seven out of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, it's based on a true story. A story like this already
fascinates me. There are plenty of drama and thrills. Those are the
movie genres I thrive on. The only thing I will "spoil" is that you
will learn so much about the real case. Especially if you get the DVD,
which has so much coverage.
The actors couldn't have been better cast. Chris Cooper was the best here. He literally scared me at times! That's a good thing considering his character. Ryan Phillippe brings a lot of depth to his character too. Laura Linney is also well cast as a serious yet witty character. The rest of the cast is great too. I think they all enjoyed this movie.
i didn't like it much. its OK to watch, but never really got me
involved. it reminded me a lot of some Russian spy-movies from the
80ties, but its maybe even worse, because Breach is just so uninspired
I didn't like Ryan Phillippe's play, while Chris Cooper and Laura Linney played so well this movie didn't deserve them. Also - can we please see a CIA/FBI/NCA movie without Dennis Haysbert in it?
Of course, it is filmed very well. Could it be better? Probably. Every story can be filmed superbly, depending on the drive behind it
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a smart, intense thriller with A+ work all the way
around, from the direction to the script to each member of the cast. I
already knew Chris Cooper and Laura Linney were top-notch and they
definitely proved that again in this film. Ryan Phillippe was the big
surprise for me. He was excellent and I often had the eerie sense that
he was truly generating the dialog himself, rather than acting.
The film was filled with quiet intensity, with the drama coming from character and well-written scenes. No theatrics, shoot outs or car chases were necessary to keep it interesting.
If you rent or buy the CD, you should also check out the bonus features-all are interesting, especially the the director's and the real Eric O'Neill's play by play commentary.
Chris Cooper is very good as spy Robert Hanssen who caused so much
damage with his espionage dealings from 1985.
Cooper conveys the mood of a religious obsessed person, who is autocratic, surly and just downright nasty to his subordinates. Who would ever guess that he was passing to the Soviets so much information?
Ryan Philippe is definitely an up and coming actor. Sent in by the bureau to investigate Hanssen, he immediately comes across as a nervous, incompetent person. Hanssen finally comes to realize that Officer O'Neill is not as foolish as he makes himself out to be.
Laura Linney, a bureau head, does a very good job in conveying what is going on and what she is doing to destroy Hanssen.
This true story was handles adeptly by Hollywood.
One of the best movies of 2007, Breach represents excellence in drama. What is especially surprising is that this espionage movie isn't so much a thriller or action movie but a real drama that exposed the dense gray area of the complexity of human behavior, thinking, and emotions. Chris Cooper landed a script that is amazing in its ability to allow Mr. Cooper to present on screen a complex individual that cannot be easily categorized or demonized for what is purportedly the worst spy scandal in United States history. The drama that incidentally revolves around the true story of FBI agent Robert Hanssen details deeply movie dialogue and psychological warfare both impacting on a marriage, employee-employer relationships, and individual to individual trust issues. A qualitatively superior based on a true story production. Nine out of Ten Stars.
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