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|Index||198 reviews in total|
Too many reviews (i.e. the New Yorker) seem to miss what's what, here. The "mystery" is spoiled about 30 seconds into the flick. The thriller side is not. But in the end the film is less about spying than it is about faith -- both religious and interpersonal. Chris Cooper is superb, as always. Ryan Philippe's boyish innocence plays against that well. Laura Linney's seeming iciness is spot-on. Even Bruce Davison, in a cameo, is excellent. The film is dark (visually, not just conceptually) but well worth the price of a ticket. And there should, if the world were a fair place, many awards to follow. One can but wonder why the release date was such a dead time of the movie year. Hardly the sunny comedy that might garner raves and attendance, in bleak February. But this is a film for grownups, anyway.
The stories about espionage appeared on a lot of movies.But we have seen two types of it.One type belongs to the shallow blockbusters with explosions and action but the other ones show the dark life of the spy.That movies(like The Conversation or The Tailor of Panama)do not focus on the spy who drives very expensive cars in the French coast who has the company of women while he shoots projectiles with his Seiko watch.That movies focus on the dangerous life of the spy who lives with fear and paranoia.The amazing movie Breach does the second style.We have not got shallow action scenes in here...this movie shows us how dangerous being a spy can be.Breach is,for the moment,the best film of 2007.The notable thing about this movie is that it could keep me all the time with suspense and tension and the movie shows us complex and fascinating characters.In 2003,the excellent actor Chris Cooper won a lot of recognition with his performance in Adaptation.After that film,we could see him as very different characters.But,on Breach,he brings the best performance of his career.His work in here is amazing.Ryan Phillipe is also great on his character and he surprised me because his work on other movies he had not stood out very much.Behind the perfect tension Breach produces on the spectator,we can see a critic to the United States.So,this movie also makes us think and go beyond to it and I found that perfect.Breach is an extraordinary film and a pleasure for the lovers of the cinema.The best film of 2007 so far.
Billy Ray does something very interesting in this film: He toys with
the audience. He utilized similar techniques in his previous film,
Shattered Glass, which I thought was also quite excellent and even
somewhat underrated. The former film, too, was a character study much
in the same way and along the same lines that Breach is. Ray places his
"villainous", deceitful character at the center of the film, and
portrays him in a way so undeniably human and rounded, when we the
audience hear about his wrong and fraudulent deeds, we can't even
believe it at first. It happens in Shattered Glass with Hayden
Christensen's Stephen Glass character (his only truly fine acting job,
if I may say so myself), and indeed, Ray's portrayal of the character
of Robert Hanssen manipulates us in just such a way. In utter
identification with Eric O'Neill, when we are first told about
Hanssen's dealings with pornography and even more so his selling
secrets to Russia, we simply can't believe it. Ray seems so fascinated
and fixated with Hanssen and has developed and portrayed him in such an
incredibly three-dimensional, rounded and well-developed way, he almost
neglects his other characters, who get far less development than
Hanssen does. Again, the same thing happened in Shattered Glass, but
this minor flaw doesn't take away from the big picture at all. It just
means the actors have a little less to work with.
As an actor's movie, this is one of those vehicles that really lets them loose. Chris Cooper, as the centerpiece of the film, delivers a subdued, vicious and absolutely incredible performance as Robert Hanssen, another very fine role in his already fruitful career. If this film is not forgotten by late this year, one can certainly hope for an Oscar nomination for Cooper. The other "higher-caliber" actor who does well in the film is Laura Linney, who is very high up on the "why hasn't she won an Oscar yet?" list. As I already mentioned, her character isn't developed quite enough to give her absolute liberty in the performance, but she does get a few tender and vulnerable moments to truly shine. Ryan Phillippe, on the other hand, is an actor I have a few problems with. He has had some great, meaty roles in fantastic movies this one being one of his meatiest but he never quite manages to get a major bite in. He is an okay actor that never exceeds that categorization and moves into the range of excellence. But I am confident, as he is still young, and with roles in films such as this one, Flags of our Fathers, Igby Goes Down and others, he is slowly building himself a repertoire of high-quality films that slowly but surely improve his skills by posing higher and more difficult obstacles for him to work around. His work in Breach may just be his best yet, but it still doesn't excel into greatness.
On a superficial level, everything about this film is solid. The direction, the design, the cinematography lighting and overall look of the film, the pace, the story everything is rock solid and well crafted. The true story aspect of the film did not necessarily have to stop it from becoming just another average espionage thriller and I had feared this as near the end it almost entered such territory but abruptly veered away but Ray does an excellent job at keeping the film focused on the fascinating story and on the characters, and not on the "action". The story itself is a fascinating, fascinating tale that, if treated well, was perfect for making a movie about, and Ray treats it expertly well. That said, the movie never quite reaches absolute greatness due to its naturally subdued nature. Ray is a good director, but he will never reach the heights of Wes Anderson, Michel Gondry or Craig Brewer simply because he keeps it simple and makes great-but-"regular" movies. Not that it's a bad thing: It's quite reassuring to know that one director is consistent at directing solid and interesting real-world drama/thrillers with fascinating stories, high production value and fascinating characters.
Finally, I must also comment on the musical score, which immediately caught my attention and which, at first, I thought was something out of Philip Glass' notebooks until a little patience during the credits revealed that it was one Mychael Danna, who had actually composed some absolutely fantastic film scores over the years in even more fantastic movies: Little Miss Sunshine, Capote, The Sweet Hereafter, The Ice Storm the list goes on. I don't necessarily remember every aspect of his work on those films (except for Little Miss Sunshine, which was also more recent and also features an immediately memorable and brilliant score), but I can safely say that his work on Breach is nothing short of brilliant, and just fantastic music on its own, besides the fact that it obviously and exquisitely enhances the tone and pace of the film.
Billy Ray is a good director, but never exceeds into greatness. Ryan Phillippe is a good actor, but never exceeds into greatness. Indeed, just about everything in this film is good even great but never exceeds into excellency, except for perhaps Chris Cooper's absolutely fascinating and powerhouse performance as Hanssen. Ray's character development is also exceptional; one can deduct from both this film and Shattered Glass that Ray seems to have an interest in deceitful, untrustworthy characters. The story is strong, intelligent and engaging, the film-making solid all around, and in all this is just a good example of fine but restrained film-making.
I saw the previews and was enamored by the whole 'story'. First right
off the top, this film (Beside being a true story) is one of those one
in a million type films. The feeling that it gives is not one that is
congruent with the 'suspending reality' so that you can enjoy the movie
as some movies have become, many in the last twenty years. It's not
someone driving off of a building and the car crashes and they live or
someone gets shot and they just kind of keep going no-problem.
Sometimes having to suspend belief will destroy the experience for me
as a 'whole'. "BREACH" had none of this and all the right ingredients.
This grabs your senses and allows you to feel the close calls that take place, with the lead character (Ryan Phillipe) Eric O'Neill, right along with an unexpected treat of a performance that Chris Cooper gave!! Bravo to Mr. Cooper and right there with him, having to take the lead is Mr. Phillipe. Chris as 'Hanson' the boss, with incredible attitude. This man is trained to be deadly, he is a human lie detector and he is licensed to be...armed to the teeth. That is a combo that would make many, shrink in his place. The man has gotten people killed, for a living. When Hanson walked in the door and gave Eric the stare that he gave, it was terrifying. Hanson, had a killer's steely-eyed fix on the new comer O'Neill. I would have had a case of disastrous nerves if it had been me there, O'Neill was a man trained and improvised to overcome. A real 'victor'. Funny thing is, I didn't even remember Ryan in anything else, but I was astounded by his right on the line portrayal of his character. You just feel, like hey, this is the way it would have to be. I watched this on the fourth of July. I both enjoyed the film and was saddened (truly)by the treachery of this sack-of-crap double agent that special agent Robert Hanson is. It was time and he (Hanson) to me more that anything else no matter how much passion that he possessed, was simply ready...to be taken down.
This was a wonderful, wonderful end of your nerves, sweat-it-out, but well shot, cinematic experience. This is a highly-recommended feature in my library of good film. (*****)
Breach is a fascinating story of Robert Hansson, an FBI agent who for
over 20 years, passed classified information to the Soviet
Union/Russia. Chris Cooper is amazing in this role, which hopefully
will not be overlooked by the Academy Awards.
Also in this all-star cast is Ryan Philippe, who plays Eric O'Neill, an FBI agent sent undercover to investigate Hansson. O'Neill posed as Hansson's aide, recruited by Laura Linney's character. Dennis Haysbert, Gary Cole, Kathleen Quinlan, and newcomer Caroline Dhavernas also pitch in with stellar performances.
The real Eric O'Neill served as a consultant on this film and based on the bonus features on the DVD, it sounds like Cooper's portrayal was right on. When you watch this DVD, make sure to check out the bonus features. There are some very good commentaries on the true case of Hansson, including a report from Dateline NBC.
This film is engaging from the first minute to the last. If you like thrillers, you will really enjoy this movie. The fact that it is a real-life story makes it all the more compelling. Rating 10 of 10 stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert is the biggest spy in American history. The government has a big
problem and they need Eric to help them uncover what Robert has done.
The thing is that Eric has to pretend to work along side Robert and
everything is a lie. Most of this movie takes place in a tiny office
but it's still an edge of your seat movie. I held my breath throughout
most of the movie because I didn't know what was going to happen.
Especially that part with Robert's car.
The character of Robert gave me the chills. I would be terrified to work with him in fear of being caught because he can tell if someone is lying. I liked when Robert has to have his picture taken and the photographer wants to put makeup on him. That look Robert gave him was heart stopping. I liked that it was based on a real life security breach. It was a really interesting film. It grabbed my attention and didn't let go.
A riveting and intense character study, 'Breach' is a completely
engrossing mystery thriller. Chris Cooper headlines with a haunting and
unforgettable performance, while writer/director Billy Ray tautly spins
a web of intrigue and suspense. This fictionalized account of the
greatest security breach in US history is this year's first great film,
and so far the best of this short year.
In February of 2001, longtime FBI intelligence officer Robert Hanssen was arrested for disclosing valuable information about the US and its allies to Russia, he would ultimately be convicted and become known as the biggest traitor in America's history. 'Breach' tells a fictionalized story of the months leading up to Hanssen's arrest, which involved Eric O'Neal, a young FBI aspiring-agent. Recruited by Kate Burroughs, O'Neal embarks on an intense and frustrating cat-and-mouse game with Hanssen, a mission that will not only test his own will power, but his marriage as well.
It's detrimental that a film like 'Breach' have a more than adequate cast to sustain itself. Lucky for us, 'Breach' has Chris Cooper to its advantage. This under appreciated actor proves once again why he's one of the best actors working today. So smooth and stealthy he is, he holds this film in the palm of his hands. He portrays Hanssen down to a T, both as a God-fearing man and someone with a dark and dangerous double-life. One can only hope that he'll be remembered this December, but that seems unlikely. Ryan Philippe, who hasn't had much opportunity in the past to flex his abilities as an actor gets that chance this time around. He may not be at the point where he can headline a film by himself, but he does a good enough job with 'Breach' with the help of an all-star cast. I think the best is still in store for him. And any chance to see Laura Linney on screen is a chance worth taking, another outstanding actor who doesn't get the praise she deserves. Her role is small, but she charges every scene she appears in that makes her such a powerful presence.
You may ask, what could make 'Breach', a film which nearly tops 2 hours, so entertaining? There are no high-speed chases, no fiery explosions, no action sequences. 'Breach' relies completely on its characters to tell this story. And what a story it is. It's so intelligently written, the dialogue is top-notch and the pacing is excellent. And although we already know the eventual outcome of the story and its characters, 'Breach' is still such a suspenseful and intense experience that we may, for a brief moment, have a lapse in memory and ask ourselves, how is it all going to end? The film unfolds like a classic Hitchcock thriller, in which the audience is let in on the story more than the character's themselves are, and that makes the experience even more satisfying. It makes me hope that perhaps the days aren't over where a spy thriller such as this one doesn't have to rely on drawn out action sequences and gun stand-offs to get by, that a little wit and a compelling script is just what the doctor ordered.
'Breach' gets as much out of its actors as you could possibly hope for. It's what takes 'Breach' from being a smart thriller to a downright great movie. And so early on in the year, I couldn't have asked for more. 'Breach' is a film for those seeking a break from being smacked over the head with the continuous stream of romance and empty action flicks. It's smart, compelling, intense. What more could you ask for? And when you didn't think it could get any better, Chris Cooper lifts this film to a completely new level that'll leave you shocked and exhilarated.
Okay. The movie is based on "actual events." So why make the movie? Why not just show the newsreels about the guy who spied from the inside? Whenever a movie stresses that it's based on "actual events" it means only one thing - "BEWARE! You are experiencing this movie at your own risk. Literary license here is running amok!". Who is to know why the spy did what he did? And why try to figure it out? Why not just ask him? He did what he did ... and it caused damage, so we are told. And what about the other fellow sent in to spy on the spy? Yes, this movie is based on "actual events" just like the movie Titanic and every war movie. But no matter how creative the script and how skilled the actors, the fact is that something based on "actual events" is not the same as the real "actual event" and should not, and must not, be treated as such because the movie is a work of fiction which may not necessarily conform with the facts. Nevertheless, the movie is a credible work of art, with strong acting, especially from Chris Cooper, and a powerful message suggesting that perhaps Senator Joseph McCarthy's claims of subversion within the government may not have been all that far off the mark. If you don't know who Joseph McCarthy was then visit my review for Good Night, and Good Luck.
I struggled to find an effective summary line for this film.
Really,there's very little way to describe this show,either from an
objective viewpoint or subjective one. I must confess that my knowledge
of the FBI,the Robert Hanssen spy case or the people around it is
decidedly sparse.In fact,when I saw the dateline for the events in
question,I had to shake my brain because I seemed to have remembered
the events in question as being LONGER AGO than it was. Of course,all
of this is really of no issue,I found this film very well done.
Towards the end of 2000,the FBI gets wind of a mole in their ranks. They finally narrow it down to agent and computer whiz Robert Hanssen(Chris Cooper,in just "another day at the office" as an effective,nuanced character performance),and have just enough dirt on him to start a case,but yet to catch him in the act. That's where Eric O'Neill(Ryan Phillipe,who might be getting BOTH better roles AND doing better performances),a would-be FBI agent,enters into the fray,as he is recruited by a supervisory agent(LAura Linney,tough and inscrutable here)to track Hanssen in what turns into a part Cat-and-Mouse,part confidence scheme as O'Neill steadily gains HAnsen's(And his family's)trust. Of course,as per any spy film--based in pure reality or inspired fiction--the closer the pursuant comes to snaring his target,the closer he comes to being compromised.
THere is little suspense here,in essence,since it's been established that HAnssen was captured,but there's still enough tension in the delicate task of catching someone in the act of espionage without the mission being snuffed out. Whenever a movie can portray a real event where the end result is either already of common knowledge or is not a kept secret,and still able to create an amount of nervous uncertainty and suspense,THAT'S an accomplishment worth note. THe mood of the film is decidedly sober,and the action and pacing is deliberately,believably slow,which leads me to think that this is much more often how spies are caught and leaks found out. Fantastic performances by Cooper(who,if I recall correctly,is A LOT less creepy looking than the real Agent HAnssen),Phillipe,Linney and KAthleen Quinlan(As HAnssen's super-devout CAtholic wife)anchor what is a basically well-fleshed out movie(acting-wise)all around. Director Billy RAy wisely chooses to make the images as dark and foreboding as possible(nonetheleast of which because the story takes place in the winter months),even when some situations aren't as grim or nervous as others. If you like movies that take a studied,careful look at real-life tragedy/intrigue,then I'd like to recommend Breach to you.
First of all, I found this movie to be dominated by a powerful
performance by Chris Cooper, accompanied by the best Ryan Philippe
performance ever by far. The Cooper portrayal shows that his
performances of the past few years have been no flukes. That said, I
found all the actors to be "dead on" for their parts and the screenplay
exceptionally well written. I went because of good reviews and I was
I think the fact that nearly all of us knew the outcome going in, and for those who didn't John Ashcroft himself tells us in the first scene, gives it that touch of the different that makes it shine.
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