In February, 2001, Robert Hanssen, a senior agent with 25 years in the FBI, is arrested for spying. Jump back two months: Eric O'Neill, a computer specialist who wants to be made an agent is assigned to clerk for Hanssen and to write down everything Hanssen does. O'Neill's told it's an investigation of Hanssen's sexual habits. Within weeks, the crusty Hanssen, a devout Catholic, has warmed to O'Neill, who grows to respect Hanssen. O'Neill's wife resents Hanssen's intrusiveness; the personal and professional stakes get higher. How they catch Hanssen and why he spies become the film's story. Can O'Neill help catch red-handed "the worst spy in history" and hold onto his personal life?Written by
Of his decision to do this picture, writer/director Billy Ray reflected: "I tend to be attracted to stories that are about deception. Or maybe I'm just attracted to characters that have that split down the middle - who are able to compartmentalize, to live one kind of life on the outside, and a very different interior life. It makes for more interesting stories. Ray continued: "Hanssen was a man of startling contradictions who did an unimaginable amount of damage to his country. He successfully spied on behalf of the Soviets and Russians for twenty-two years before being caught, so clearly he was an intelligent individual. But at the end of the day, he is an evil man and a traitor to his country." See more »
When Eric O'Neill removes Robert Hanssen's Palm Pilot from his briefcase you can clearly see the Palm Pilot Model is a Palm III, which doesn't use an SD memory chip, which is lying next to it. This Palm has a 8 meg of internal memory only - no External memory card. See more »
Sunday, the FBI successfully concluded an investigation to end a serious breach in the security of the United States. The arrest of Robert Hanssen, for espionage, should remind us all, every American should know, that our nation, our free society, is an international target, in a dangerous world.
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"Breach" is slow - slow enough to recommend waiting to rent for most people. It is a good story, but the material requires the methodical pacing that will bore viewers hoping for car chases and gun fights.
The most authentic part of the movie is its attention to detail. The interior shots look like the drab, boring government offices they portray. This wonderfully realistic touch will be lost on those that haven't toiled in such holes; it is nice that a movie finally depicts a governmental office that looks like one, instead of a futuristic, gleaming movie version that has more in common with the starship Enterprise.
Intentionally or not, the drabness goes beyond the office spaces (apologies to - yeahhh - Gary Cole). Laura Linney's hair is flat and dull, and she's as pale as a ghost. All of the exterior shots are cloudy with a 70% chance of showers, like DC all winter long. The somber look of the movie enhances theme, but will probably leave some viewers with a bad taste.
As a retired intelligence analyst, I enjoyed this movie because it reminds us that traitors exist, and they cause damage to our national security. Like "United 93" it isn't easy or enjoyable to watch, but the subject matter is thought provoking.
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