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
Director Billy Ray kept Eric M. O'Neill involved in all aspects of the production, from rewriting the original screenplay, to putting it on the big screen. O'Neill said: "I worked closely with him to provide an accurate portrayal of events from an FBI standpoint."The former agent believes "this will be the most accurate FBI movie ever made." Ray said: "If you have a resource like Eric available, you'd be crazy not to use him. Eric was enormously helpful to me in the researching and writing of the script. And once the movie was cast, he was a great resource for Ryan [Ryan Phillippe] and Chris [Chris Cooper]. He had such insight into what Robert Hanssen was really like. Ryan had a slightly different take on Eric O'Neill than what I had written." Ray continued: "What Ryan saw was a power dynamic between O'Neill and Hanssen that shifted in a way that hadn't been scripted or anticipated. This came out of his meeting with Eric. He began to see that as much as Hanssen could be a bully, and as much as he could humiliate and belittle you, Eric occasionally slapped back." See more »
One of the potential "lies" that Eric tells Hansson is that "he earned merit badges in every category except marksmanship". The Boy Scouts of America merit badges are not broken into categories as the "lie" implies. 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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Chris Cooper, already an established actor, gives the performance of a lifetime as Robert Hansen, the FBI agent arrested for 25 years of espionage against the United States. Cooper convincingly portrays the smugness, cockiness, and "holier than thou" attitude which eventually (in my eyes) led to Hansen's downfall.
The movie is tense and moves swiftly without compromising the story line. Ryan Phillipe is equally impressive as the young FBI employee who is brought on to earn Hansen's trust and find out what made him tick.
This is a must-see - I saw it with about 100 people ... and from what I heard, almost everyone was still talking about it afterward as they walked out and in the bathrooms - and all were great comments.
Definitely an early Oscar contender for 2008 in my opinion.
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