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(2007)

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7/10
focused spy drama
Roland E. Zwick26 February 2007
On February 18, 2001, Robert Hanssen, a 56-year old FBI agent, was arrested, by the very agency he worked for, for selling secrets to the Russians. He was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to 15 charges of espionage. This is widely considered to be the worst case of treason in the history of American intelligence.

"Breach" looks at the story through the eyes of Eric O'Neill, the young, up-and-coming junior agent assigned by investigators in the bureau to spy on Hanssen. In the position of personal assistant to Hanssen, O'Neill works to uncover evidence against his boss that will help to strengthen the legal case gradually being built against him.

"Breach" is a fairly solid political thriller, less concerned with big action scenes than with examining the relationship between these two very different men set in unwitting opposition to one another. Hanssen himself is a mass of immense hypocrisies and contradictions. A devout Catholic, he attends Mass religiously, recites the rosary everyday, and looks with disdain upon homosexuals, women who wear pants and anybody seemingly to the left politically of Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan. Yet, despite his outward display of moral rectitude, Hanssen secretly distributes porn videos of his wife (she is unaware of their existence) and betrays his country by turning over classified information to the enemy. O'Neill finds himself simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by the man, who manages to be both prig and libertine at one and the same time. O'Neill knows that what Hanssen is doing is terribly wrong, yet he can't help falling under the spell of a man he knows that, under other circumstances, he might well come to value as a friend and a mentor.

Ryan Philippe is subtle and brooding as the taciturn O'Neill, reluctant to condemn the man he's been sent to bring down until all the facts are in. It's true that his performance is a bit of a Johnny-one-note at times, but since the function of the character is that of observer rather than catalyst, Philippe's self-effacing underplaying seems the right editorial choice here. Plus, it clears the deck for Chris Cooper to step to the forefront with his finely-tuned interpretation of Hanssen that brings real dimensionality and depth to the film. He turns Hanssen into a richly complex figure, a man who demands strict adherence to form yet who systematically violates that very rule at the deepest core of his own being. A stickler for protocol and standards and unforgiving of those who fall short of them, Hanssen somehow fails to see his own glaring weaknesses while managing to condemn others for theirs. Through his perceptive performance, Cooper makes it possible for us to see this walking paradox in all his complexity and humanity.

The movie itself, written by Adam Mazer, William Rotko and Billy Ray, and directed by Ray, is a trifle plodding at times and doesn't feel as vital as perhaps it should given the seriousness of the issues it is addressing, but, for the most part, we welcome its unfrenetic approach to the subject. It doesn't try to gin up the melodrama or unravel its human enigma - rather it presents him as truthfully and impartially as possible, then leaves it up to the viewer to render the final judgment.
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10/10
The best of the year to date
tpibb16 February 2007
The history behind the FBI and the CIA have always fascinated me and I have studied this history for many years. I am well aware of the story of Robert Hanssen, and had to see the film because of that. I had my doubts about it, being the avid movie-goer that I am that they would try to "Hollywood-ize" it too much, as is almost always the case when a true story hit the silver screen. This is not the case with "Breach".

Some of the things in the movie are stretched, as is always the case, but it still remains very loyal to the truth. "Breach" does a wonderful job of taking theses slightly exaggerated parts to increase the feeling of drama and suspense, and doing it the right way.

Another bright spot is Oscar Winner Chris Cooper's fantastic portrayal of Hanssen. Cooper does such a great job of capturing Hanssen's intimidation of young Eric O'Neill and his increasing paranoia. There is no doubt in my mind that Cooper's role is Oscar worthy. It would be a shame if he were not nominated.

This film is excellent from beginning to end and is without a doubt the best spy movie I have seen in ages. The film itself, like Chris Cooper, I believe is Oscar worthy.
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10/10
Academy Award Caliber Performances
bhop5916 February 2007
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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Two Men in a Boat
tedg24 February 2007
I was surprised at how effective this was. You know from the very beginning how it will end. You know because it is a true story that there will be no trendy plot twists. You expect, and find, that the young assistant is built around a cliché, as is Hanssen's Catholicism, which oddly ignores the role of Opus Dei in this venture, and focuses on prayer instead of devotion.

And there is a formulaic bit about damaging fathers and odd wives. More: there's the project command center that is drawn from movies and not from life. And finally, our hero is told the FBI's biggest secret in an open public place. This would never ever happen, and it is staged this way only to help the pacing of the thing in terms of stagecraft. And that DIA computer room, with the nice clean Cray-like machines, is from the same fantasy world as "Red October's" neon-lighted missile tubes.

But in spite of all this, it works. And especially compared to "The Departed," it works, simply, cleanly, deeply.

That's because the filmmaker decided early in the game that he was going to do what the Hong Kong "Infernal Affairs" did well and others copied: this business of actors playing characters who are actors. In this case, we have two such in the same boat.

We have a top information manager at the FBI working for the Russians and acting normal, even when leading the hunt for himself. We have the young under cover guy pretending to be simply a clerk. Each intuits the other is watching. The older man completely wins at the start, with the younger man eventually besting him in artifice. Its a calculation that the filmmaker makes, when deciding not to tell us why our young hero does what he does and where he gets the tools. In an ordinary story, that would hurt, but here it is a wise decision because such "explaining" would get in the way of the economy of the thing. And it is all about economic connection with us.

Its a bit counterintuitive that effective stories sometimes get better by lopping off story elements and information. But it is true. Some students of the Hanssen case believe that Hanssen's primary motive was to show his own importance (as a information security planner) by revealing holes in the system that he would have plugged. I wish this film would have worked with that a bit, because this notion of helping the system by hurting is system is both what the story could have been about and the means used to tell the story.

Still, a good one.

As a historical note, there's a reason folks from the FBI and CIA, even senior ones, can't wander into NSA computing facilities. Hanssen wasn't allowed, probably a good thing at the time. Opus Dei again.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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9/10
One of the best spy movies ever
Greg11 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In February 2001, F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen was arrested by an agency task force and charged with selling the highest and most classified of the government's secrets to the Soviet Union. His case would later identify him as the biggest spy in American history who's sharing of sensitive documents and information lead to the death of at least three operatives while exposing some of the nation's highest confidential secrets and operations.

Breach, the new film by Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) tells this remarkable story of how Hanssen was eventually exposed and how the F.B.I. worked over the final two months of his employment at the agency to try and infiltrate his circle and make a case using all their available resources at the highest level of the bureau.

Chris Cooper (Adaptation) plays Hanssen. He is a church going family man that at first hardly mirrors the monster that the agency is determined to expose. Ryan Phillippe (Crash) plays Eric O'Neill, an agent wannabe that is assigned to work as Henssen's clerk in an attempt to follow, document and spy on his move in an attempt to help the F.B.I. build their case. Their relationship for two months will lead to the downfall of Hanssen's operations and would leave a black mark on the government agencies in a year that presented its own problems by September 11th.

When we first meet O'Neill, he is a hard working computer and surveillance wiz. Married to a beautiful wife (Caroline Dhavernas) Eric has all the hopes and ambitions of working his way up the corporate ladder to become an F.B.I. field agent. So when the Bureau's Kate Borroughs recruits O'Neill to work for and report all activities of Hanssen, Eric is quick to realize the opportunity and accepts the position as Hanssen's clerk.

Eric is informed that Hanssen is nothing more than a sexual deviant that if revealed, would bring great embarrassment to the Agency. He is told of Hanssen's penchant for strippers, women and web sites depicting sexual acts and behavior and his role is based unconditionally on surveillance furthering this information.

But as Eric is dragged deeper and deeper into Hanssen's personal and professional life, he can hardly confirm his superior's suggestions. Hanssen became a mentor. He was a highly intellectual individual that had strong Catholic beliefs and a wife and family to which he adored. This brings O'Neill to question agent Borroughs as to exactly why the agency is investing so much energy and time into a man that revealed himself to be more the perfect neighbor rather than the someone worthy of such high level agency attention.

This brings Borroughs to her only recourse – informing O'Neill that Hanssen is everything they claim him to be and more. He is someone who has sold secrets to the enemy and jeopardized the safety and security of the American people and their allies.

With this new information in tow, O'Neill continues with his surveillance with new found ambition and cooperates in luring Hanssen into a trust that will eventually lead to his arrest.

Breach is one of those rare spy movies that is almost perfect. The characters are all crisp and well developed and the story, inspired by real events, is a screenwriters dream. Imagine being handed the reins to a film about people whose lives - in ways that we might never fully realize the complete impact - shaped the future of a country by exposing how one man could have access and be trusted with the most confidential of information.

Luckily for us – the paying customer – the story and its telling were given to screenwriters Adam Mazer and William Rotko under the direction of Billy Ray who surprisingly handles the content and the pacing like a veteran even though he previously had only one directing credit on his resume prior to this superior outing. I couldn't help but think that the same story under the producing credit of Jerry Bruckheimer would have produced something with tremendous gunfire, explosions, over-wrought musical scores and a cat and mouse story that would have had more dramatic trumped up moments rather than believable situations where the tension felt by the audience comes in the form of watching our characters fight against the time they are given to produce the necessary evidence while the weight of their failure and exposure hangs heavy in the balance.

It's unfortunate that Breach is being released this time of year. Most audiences in the mood for serious fare will be spending their monies trying to catch the Oscar nominees and winners and with popcorn fare such as Ghost Rider and Bridge to Terabithia being released Breach may get lost in all the shuffle.

So whether Breach has box office success or must find life on DVD is up to the public, but one thing is certain – Breach is already one of the best films of the year and as far as the spy movie genre goes, I for one am hard pressed to mention another as worthy effort.
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8/10
Slow but Authentic
johnwalt-13 March 2007
"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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7/10
I Matter Plenty
David Ferguson19 February 2007
Greetings again from the darkness. Writer/Director Billy Ray was the creative force behind "Shattered Glass" a few years ago and obviously is drawn to true stories of human deception. Here he takes on one of our biggest fears ... a federal agent who sells out his own country. Normally we only get these type of scenarios in LeCarre novels, but the story of FBI agent Robert Hanssen is a real life nightmare.

Perfect casting has Chris Cooper as the very odd Hanssen who has nearly 25 years with the bureau, many of which have been spent selling off national secrets to the Soviet Union. In an almost unbelievable stroke of luck, Hanssen was put in charge of finding the mole ... yes, his job was to find himself!! Cooper is very strong here as the ego-maniacal tortured soul who pulls off his deceit with a disarming devotion to religion, the bureau and blending. He appears to be just another working stiff pulling in a paycheck.

Most of the supporting staff is solid. Laura Linney is slightly miscast as the agent in charge of bringing Hanssen down. Dennis Haysbert is her boss. Gary Cole plays it straight here, and Kathleen Quinlan (as Hanssen's wife) and Bruce Davison (as Eric O'Neill's dad) have brief but effective turns. Caroline Dhavernas is an actress I am not familiar with, but her performance here has me intrigued.

The weak link in the film is Ryan Phillipe, who just doesn't possess the acting chops to pull off the pivotal role of Eric O'Neill - the agent wannabe who gets thrust into the crucial position of bringing Hanssen down. It is just implausible to believe Phillipe could ever pass the FBI entrance exam, much less outsmart the guy who outsmarted the entire bureau for two decades. Despite the weakness, the story is strong enough to overcome this and maintain the quasi-thriller feel. This is quite an accomplishment for a film when all the viewers know how it will end!! The real life Hanssen is spending life in prison and O'Neill immediately resigned from the bureau for the "normal" life of a Washington attorney. Part spy thriller, part history lesson, part psychoanalysis, "Breach" is very enjoyable despite the fact that we are provided no real answers as to WHY this man acted as he did. We are only led to believe that it wasn't the money, but instead the ego that drove his madness.
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4/10
Hanssen was never this stupid?
mrgabe-119 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the excellent acting in Breach, the screenplay and plot leave much to be desired. Much better to have stuck to the facts, since Hanssen's life and downfall are interesting enough as is, without the plot contrivances of a very young and green sleuth managing to keep up with his clever elder. It is very difficult to stay interested in the story line when Hanssen does not immediately marginalize his assistant, instead of taking him into his confidence and ultimately destroying himself. Perhaps with a better actor than Ryan Phillippe, who can't keep up with Cooper, viewers could manage to suspend belief and become involved in this contrivance. Hanssen certainly was a monster, but he was never this stupid.
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4/10
I found it superficial and ineffective, just not painful
wonderw2214 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Potential spoilers throughout...

I usually don't feel the need to post comments on IMDb but for this one I did. From the moment we saw the first preview for Breach, we knew we had to see it. Spies, intrigue, mystery, suspense, tangled webs of lies... what's not to like? Unfortunately it was very much a letdown, perhaps made worse by the last movie we'd seen being something as tremendous as "The Good Shepherd."

I have to say Chris Cooper is an excellent actor, but in the lack of context of this movie,his performance seems a little lost. We never quite learn enough about him to empathize. So he is a committed Catholic... but he also films himself having (fairly traditional as far as I can tell, might I add) sex with his wife. And then he asks Eric if a certain porno actress is attractive? He considers himself a patriot, and feels the need to "fix" the system, and seems to look down on Eric's choice of an East German woman for a wife... but he sells secrets. So why does he do it? We never really learn why. At the end, the brief conversation about whether it's ego, or troubled childhood, or whatever else, seems like an easy cop-out. Why throw several potential reasons out there and never really get into any of them?

Ryan Philippe is a relative lightweight and I found it hard to ever buy into him supposedly being such a bright kid. The only evidence you ever really see of this is a thick stack of papers that apparently is some sort of database overhaul proposal. Um, okay... but when his computer doesn't turn on, he feels the need to open the side of the CPU tower and fumble with the drives for half an hour. And for a genius, he sure does type slow... not that these little plot holes couldn't be overlooked with strong character development, but it wasn't there.

I also wondered if it was abnormal of me to somehow feel like 23 hours a day in solitary confinement was too harsh. Anyone responsible for 50+ deaths should be served justice, but the movie just didn't convince me of how terrible his acts really were. I think more time was needed to get into what exactly it was he was doing, rather than to cover it in a 30-second dialogue and spend the rest of the film with silly little twists... using a side trip to the Catholic store as a ploy to get him back in the car? Was that supposed to convince me that he is such a clever guy?

When Hanssen and his wife make their surprise visit to Juliana, and Eric is not home, wouldn't the fact that his wife didn't have the number to his pager tip off Hanssen from the beginning? Obviously it came up because Hanssen immediately mentions the pager as soon as Eric walks in the door, but would his wife really pretend to know about the pager or would she give Hanssen a blank-faced stare that would have given him away immediately?

Oh, and why, in this day and age, would Hanssen ever turn over a film of himself and his wife having sex to Eric on a VHS no less, to mail to Germany? Seemed like a convenient way to get Juliana "read in," Eric freaked out, and something way too stupid for Hanssen to ever do.

I didn't walk out of the theater feeling like this was a complete disappointment and waste of my money, but it definitely wasn't the movie I was expecting it to be. There are so many more spy movies out there that are far, far better than this one.
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10/10
Breach is excellent true-to-life story of Robert Hanssen
tavm17 February 2007
Breach is based on the true story of the capture of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent responsible for many treasonous acts against the United States. Chris Cooper is excellent throughout in portraying a Catholic family man who goes to church constantly with his wife and kids while hiding his sexual perversions. Ryan Phillippe is Eric O'Neill, Hanssen's new assistant who is assigned by boss Laura Linney to keep tabs on Hanssen to use as evidence against him. Caroline Dhavernas as Eric's European wife who wants Eric to come clean about his job, Gary Cole as another agent, and Dennis Haysbert as Linney's superior round out the fine cast in a film that slowly but surely builds up suspense in the various ways of snooping that brings the bureau closer to catching Hanssen in the act of treason. Don't expect James Bond or Alias action here. Do expect an excellent drama about an agent who almost slipped from the FBI's hands.
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5/10
Not sure what it was trying to do
sioenroux2 August 2007
The performances were all just fine, the story had the potential to be intriguing, the characterizations ought to have been riveting.

Why then, was this movie so ho-hum? It felt like the director and writers didn't know what story they were trying to tell. Was it a character study of a traitor? No, we don't get much depth on Hanssen. Was it a taut thriller? No, there weren't thrills to speak of, and no real twists or turns. Was it an inside-the-FBI potboiler? No, we didn't learn much about the bureaucracy of intelligence.

At times, there were glimmers of each of these stories, but never any depth on any them. I felt like we skated along the surface of a story that would have been much more interesting viewed from underneath the ice.

I don't recommend spending the time on this, unless you really like looking at Ryan Phillipe. I do, and it still didn't elevate it.
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7/10
Cooper is amazing, the story is taut and good
secondtake2 January 2014
Breach (2007)

The big arc here is the uncovering of a spy within the FBI, based on a true story. And that's interesting. But the movie works because of the mental and emotional sparring between the two leads.

First is the spy, Robert Hanssen, played brilliantly by Chris Cooper. He pulls off the brilliance and eccentricity you might get with this kind of person, and all without stagy exaggeration. This is a spy and a spy story worthy of John Le Carre.

Next to him is the young FBI worker, not yet an agent, Eric O'Neill, played by Ryan Phillippe. He's excellent enough to support Cooper, for sure, though he (maybe by necessity) is a more bland type. His struggle with why he (of all the FBI people possible) has been given the huge job of bringing this other man down is key to his depth.

Both men have wives, and both women are good—Hanssen's wife is played by Kathleen Quinlan and though we don't see her much, she's really good. And generally the cast supports this chilling, dry, steady intrigue.

In other ways, the movie is a bit conventional—professionally made, you might say, but without stylistic distinction. It's no breakthrough masterpiece. But what it tries to do telling this story it does with spare, direct force. This is no adventure tale —there is no real action. But that's good. It's compelling and interesting.

Since this is "history" or "based on truth" it's worth saying that only the large facts are followed. All the fun movie stuff—the meeting of the wives, the pistol shooting in two scenes, the sex stuff, and so on—are all invented. Apparently life is either too dull or too dangerous to really put on film.

But that's okay. It's a strong story. And Cooper steals the day.
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10/10
Cooper Excels And Makes Breach Soar
Desertman849 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Breach is a historical drama film directed by Billy Ray. The screenplay by Ray, Adam Mazer, and William Rotko is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia for more than two decades, and Eric O'Neill, who worked as his assistant and helped bring about his downfall. Chris Cooper and Ryan Philippe star in this fact-based drama concerning the FBI traitor who carried out what many historians refer to as the most notable national security breach in U.S. history.

A key member of the FBI's elite Soviet Analytical Unit, Robert Hanssen (Cooper) would, for 15 years beginning in 1985, sell thousands of pages of classified documents to the Soviets. After making roughly 600,000 dollars on his clandestine endeavor and compromising everything from the identities of KGB spies working for the American government to nuclear war contingency plans, Hanssen was eventually transferred to a newly created position at the FBI's Washington headquarters and assigned the task of guarding his country's most sensitive secrets. It was while working in this capacity that a young agent named Eric O'Neill (Phillipe) was assigned the task of keeping tabs on Hanssen by suspicious higher-ups. Later, after being arrested while delivering a cache of secret documents to a "dead drop" spot in a Virginia park, the notorious traitor was arrested and sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.

Powered by Chris Cooper's masterful performance, Breach is a tense and engaging portrayal of the FBI's infamous turncoat.He is the is the principal reason why this unspectacular, low-key study of the Hanssen national security fiasco is so effective.The movie soars because of it.

Aside from that,it is an espionage thriller which focuses on strong character development, performances and setting that it feels so realistic and far from being contrived.

Overall,it is an enjoyable, slow-burning thriller with an intelligent script that it should be classified as a must-see.
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8/10
Engaging and Dramatic Spy Movie
Claudio Carvalho14 August 2012
In 2001, the FBI clerk Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), who is a specialist in computer but wants to be an agent, is invited by agent Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) to work with the senior agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) that had worked for many years in Soviet Union and now is assigned to protect the agency against electronic infiltration. Kate tells to Eric to write down the behavior of Hanssen in notes and send them to her since Hanssen would be a pervert under investigation of his sexual behavior.

Eric works with the bitter and rough Hanssen and he finds a family man and devout Catholic who earns his respect instead of a deviant. Further, his investigation and his relationship with Hanssen and his wife Bonnie (Kathleen Quinlan) affects Eric's wife Juliana (Caroline Dhavernas). Eric tells his opinion to Kate and she decides to tell the truth about Hanssen to him: he is a mole that sold many secrets to the Soviet Union and has compromised the identity of dozens of agents. Eric decides to go on in his assignment despite his friendship with Hanssen and the problems in his marriage.

"Breach" is an engaging and dramatic spy movie based on the true story of an FBI agent that was arrested for spying on 20 February 2001. I bought this DVD many years ago and only yesterday I decided to watch it and I found a great film.

The plot is developed in adequate pace and supported by magnificent performances of Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney. The duel between Eric O'Neill and Robert Hanssen is fantastic. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Quebra de Confiança" ("Fail in Confidence")
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5/10
oh, it's a BREACH alright !
j_graves6820 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot believe the previous posters who actually liked this film! The beginning is typically slow and what I was expecting to be a complicated but subliminally powerful and thought-provoking film was instead very monotonous, pedestrian and uninspired piece of...film-making. The acting wasn't bad: Chris Cooper is good in anything he does although he seems to take on the same kinds of roles ("American Beauty," "Jarhead"). Ryan Phillippe isn't THAT bad of an actor -he's no Hayden Christensen, and Laura Linney is just Laura Linney like she was working through the wee hours of the night in this movie. But BECAUSE those caliber of actors were in this film, I felt interested in watching it through.

My problem was began with the overall plot: the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and this story takes place in 2000/2001. The Soviets weren't the threat that they were back in the 1980s and beforehand, so it makes me wonder if the real Robert Hansenn sold secrets to whomever was really willing to buy them rather than the former Evil Empire. So the writers may have felt that if they fingered the most obvious of bad guys (since the Nazis have been pretty much used-up in movie formulas), it would make a few bucks more as opposed to modern-day terrorists. The "sexual deviancy" problem seemed interesting to me at first when I saw the trailers, thinking that Chris Cooper's character was a closet-pedophile or a chickenhawk or something. Turns out that the guy was just a Catherine Zeta-Jones fan (like most other men) with a weird fetish of videotaping he and his wife having sex. OOOOHH !!! Scary! And at the end when he in fact does get caught, wouldn't the FBI agents want to go ahead and intercept the bag that he left underneath the bridge for the drop? Maybe it was more important to show him in the van admitting his guilt instead. The ending was curt and rather flat, I didn't care at that point. I just felt that I could of had a better time playing "Spy Hunter" for two hours than watching that! I know that there is an audience for this film- reading the previous comments, and seeing the IMDb rating tells me that this film was redeeming in its own special way. Whatever.

I could name half-a-dozen better spy flicks than this. This seems to go into the category with the "Most Un-Inspired Espionage Flicks of the Twenty-First Century". Runner-up to "The Good Shepard/Good German."
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10/10
Great plot twists without giving away too much along the way
beth-24931 January 2007
We had the opportunity to see the film and engage in a Q&A with writer/director Billy Ray.

The movie was so tightly written and portrayed events in such a way that in a very short amount of time you understood so much more than was covered by all of the books and newspaper accounts of the incident involving Robert Hanssen.

The acting was fantastic with Chris Cooper way out in front giving another amazing performance.

The Q&A with Billy Ray revealed a man who is so skilled at his craft and so methodical and strategic yet at the same time plagued by unnecessary insecurity.

This is a must see!
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8/10
Fascinating Spy Story
iohefy-214 February 2007
I went to see a preview of this film last night and I will say that I enjoyed it very much, although it did drag somewhat in spots. The acting especially by Chris Cooper was very good and he was the spy, and the central figure in this spy thriller. The rest of the cast was adequate for their portrayals. This is a fascinatingg story of Robert Hannsen the spy who rivaled all other spies by handing the Russians the largest quantity of United States secrets. There is not a lot of action in this film but it held your interest throughout the film, because it is based on a true story and the writers enhanced the story and I for one enjoyed it very much. Do yourself a favor and go see this very good spy story.
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9/10
Amazing Story, Nicely Presented
ccthemovieman-118 July 2007
This was an interesting movie, and very well-acted. It had to be, because there was very little action and only a little suspense. Like the old Columbo" television series, you knew who the crook was right away. What you didn't know was how the cops were going to catch him.

In this case, the question was how the FBI was going to finally nab Robert Hanssen, the biggest spy in the history of the United States. He finally was caught in 2001 after about 15 years of giving tons of information to the Soviet Union.

Exactly how much damage Hanssen did isn't public knowledge which hurts the film because you never get a real grasp of what a "bad guy" this man was and, hence, you don't feel as satisfied at the ending of the movie as you should. In fact, this film almost makes him look sympathetic at times. I fell into that trap myself a few times, in a way feeling sorry for this man, so well portrayed by actor Chris Cooper. If knew a little more of what harm this man did, there were no sympathy.

Anyway, the acting is superb led by Cooper, of course, as Hanssen and ably supported by Ryan Phillippe as FBI clerk "Eric O'Neill," who brought him down, and Laura Linney as FBI agent "Kate Burroughs," who recruited O'Neill for the job. Those three along with Caroline Dehavemas, who plays Hanssen's wife, "Julianna," are the main characters and dominate the film.

This is a low-key film. Don't look for James Bond-spy-type action and humor. This is the gritty real thing. It's also another "based on a true story" movie so how much of this is true, I don't know. Only the key people involved know for sure. I could see they really wanted to emphasize Hanssen''s strong Catholic beliefs and, naturally being Hollywood, demonize the man for that.

The first third of this film is primarily showing his strong feeling for the Catholic Church and disdain for those aren't are weak ones. The filmmakers subtly put in their agendas by making sure they portray Hanssen as against Liberal causes. The left-wing slants are normal for filmmakers so I ignored those and just enjoyed the excellent acting and interesting story. It's amazing Hanssen got away with what he did for so long. As he himself says at the end, he might have helped at least tighten up our own security by showing how many holes were in it. Hopefully, that has changed. It's equally as amazing that a young kid who wasn't even agent-status could bring this spy down.
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Movie for lovers of intrigue, spies and good cinema.
psagray8 August 2012
When aspiring FBI agent "Eric O'Neill" (Phillippe) is assigned as a companion to the veteran "Robert Anisen" (Cooper), of the Agency, this has reason to believe that valuable information is going to the Soviets. In order not to arouse too much suspicion, one of the supervisors of the case (Linney) tells "Eric" that his mission will be to monitor "Hanssen" because he is a sexual pervert.

No chases, no gunfights, and lots of action, however this movie has you for two hours glued to the screen wanting to know more The viewer will catch the atmosphere of mystery, of redemption and disturbing sensuality, through a great script served wonderfully by a cast exception. All do very well, all offer memorable moments, from the always great Chris Cooper Ryan Phillippe rookie, going through the brief interventions fraught with tension, no less, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert and Kathleen Quinlan, who has excelled in the splendid film "Far from Heaven" 2002.

There are scenes of great tension and intrigue as the film is superb. The further the story, the more the viewer feels immersed in the plot. As to the end, you could say it's no surprise since the beginning of the film already sensed the outcome, but hey, it could not be otherwise, because remember that this film is based on real events. It is a highly recommended film for lovers of intrigue, spies and good movies.
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8/10
Watch This Movie
owhanee23 May 2011
Chris Cooper is brilliant. The screenwriter and director have done a very good job of storytelling in one of those situations where you have seen the TV Newsmagazine treatment and you know who did it and how it ends. (spoiler alerts not applicable for this one.)

This movie has a very strong cast including Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Ryan Philippe, Gary Cole and Kathleen Quinlan - who all give their usual solid interpretations. But to me, Cooper stands out with a truly memorable performance, pardon my cliché.

Watch this movie if, like me you passed it over because you had seen it in the news. The suspense, detail and different angles of perspective will amaze you.
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Slow paced and engaging spy drama based on character
bob the moo1 June 2008
Eric O'Neill is an ambitious young intel officer within the FBI, with hopes for more that he is currently being assigned. His hopes are both raised and dashed when he is assigned to work with veteran agent Robert Hanssen, who is a known sexual defiant. The FBI want to know who else has been involved with his internet postings and require O'Neill to log every action, every comment and find out as much as possible while essentially also working as a clerk. A job is a job but O'Neill finds himself quite liking the grouchy but amiable senior agent and wondering what the point of this assignment is, as he appears to be wasting his time.

Based on a true story, so I'm not sure how much of the detail (or even sweep) is true or artistic license, this is a quite satisfying drama that surprised me by how much I liked it. I hadn't heard anything really about it before watching it and I assumed it would be the usual spy thriller a la The Recruit, with twisty plots, running with guns and shouting. Instead what I got was a much slower and quieter drama that takes as much from the characters as it does from the story itself. It is not an easy sell but it works because the delivery "gets" what is required. The sweep of the narrative is engaging but what makes it succeed is the way it builds the two central characters so they are both of value to the viewer. I didn't think that O'Neill was the main character so much as a required device to get the audience involved with Hanssen. This allows the complex character to be built up and, while never totally understood, I was left with conflicting emotions about him and his motivations for what he did.

I have not put that very well but with this in mind the performances are key. I'm not a big fan of Phillippe to say the least but here he does good restrained work. He is not brilliant but he does just what the film needs. What he seems to benefit from is a great turn from Cooper. Cooper plays all the conflicting parts of his character really well so that, while not making total sense, they convince as reality. It is a great performance and he does make the film. In smaller roles Linney, Cole Quinlan and Haysbert are nice finds that add a sense of quality to the film. Dhavernas didn't work that well for me and it was just as well that her character's involvement was minimal.

Breach is a grown-up spy film, not one for those looking for twisty narrative with a running and shouting conclusion. It delivers a satisfying story where we already know the ending and it does it by building the characters and relationships around the lead two to draw the viewer in. The performances from Cooper and Phillippe are worthy of the material as well, doing it justice and making it work.
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7/10
Could have been great if only they elaborate it more
johnny-0813 May 2008
"Breach" of Billy Ray is based on a true story about Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Hanssen works for 25 years in FBI but he becomes suspicious so head of the FBI sends young Erika O'Neilla (Ryan Phillippe) to supervise Hanssen. Erik is hired as Hanssen's secretary and he must earn his confidence and actually become his friend.

Ray's first movie ("Shattered Glass") is also based on a true story just like this one. Here Ray takes maybe too big bite for him. Experienced director would make this movie even better cause here we are only given scraps. The whole betrayal of Hanssen should have been presented in much bigger way. But even without that "Breach" is recommendable movie with great Chris Cooper in main role and with solid support from Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney.

Also it reminds of magnificent "Donnie Brasco". Both Depp and Phillippe characters must become friends with the man they trail and actually enter in their world; so their wives suffer who don't know nothing about that (Heche/Dhavernas). Of course "Donnie Brasco" is much, much better movie but I felt those connections. There is inevitable initiation of Russians again and at the whole end director makes weird. He shows Hanssen as religious man and one of the last lines when they meet in the elevator (what are the chances?) is: "Pray for me." After Hanssen asks that in tears, Eric replies: "I will." That last lines surely never happened in real life but they needed a movie ending and I think most of people will feel a bit sorry for Hanssen. Actually his biggest crime isn't that he betrayed his country (like most of people think); his biggest crime is that people were murdered because of his acts.

If you can, watch this movie to learn something about so called 'one of the greatest security breaches in U.S. history', or because of Chris Cooper or just because you've got nothing better to do on Tuesday evening.
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9/10
My interview with O'Neill himself.
Phil Marr15 June 2007
I worked on an interview with O'Neill, the FBI agent who brought down Hansenn (the FBI spy). I am not sure if the interview is available online as audio, but maxim online did publish part of it. I recommend checking it out if you enjoyed the movie, or if you are going to see the movie. It was one of the most riveting interviews I have ever been a part of.

O'Neill said he felt like an "actor" during the time he spent with Hansenn as "Friends." Unlike an actor, however, he only got one shot at a good performance. The anxiety became nearly unbearable.

Hansonne talked himself up to be a perfect American. O'Neill had to pretend he believed it.

See the movie, sure, but read HIS story: http://www.maximonline.com/articles/index.aspx?a_id=7597
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6/10
Generally Unsatisfying
Jim-50022 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I couldn't help but feel frustrated by this movie. There were so many things the characters did that were hard to believe. Ryan Phillippe does a couple of really stupid things (the briefcase, the videotape) that you don't have to be in the FBI to know not to do. And then he goes a-snoopin' on a computer on which he shouldn't--any PC owner knows that every click of the mouse can be traced. And this guy is posing as a computer tech?

And why is Laura Linney paging him all the time when she knows he is with Chris Cooper and can't talk? If anything, it would raise Cooper's suspicions.

Of course, all these things are done to raise the tension. But then they felt so contrived, as did the other two big episodes where monkey wrenches are thrown into the FBI's works (the photographer, the car inspection) just to put the hero in harm's way.

And I just couldn't accept Linney in this role. She's good, but it's hard for me to picture a young, beautiful blonde in the role of an FBI head. And FBI agents' wives are supposed to know going in that there are some things their husbands can't tell them, so Caroline Dhavernas' dis-ease about his actions was also hard to accept.

I really liked Chris Cooper a lot. Overall, I think the movie is well done. But it's hard writing a story about something where everyone knows what happens in the end before the movie begins. A lot of the action here just seemed so formulaic, and left me ultimately wanting more substance and more imaginative writing.
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10/10
Acted to perfection, a sad treasonous story
Benjamin Wolfe6 July 2007
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. (*****)
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