This is a review of the 2007 movie Breach, starring Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillipe, Laura Linney and Denis Haysbert.
Plot Synopsis: Based on the true story, FBI upstart Eric O’Neill enters into a power game with his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was ultimately convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union.
Me: Breach is based on the very real story of Robert Hanssen, a despicable man who was responsible for the worst breach of national security in the history of United States.
The Honeybee: The movie started out with real news footage of the big day when they finally caught him, probably to drive home the point that this was a true story. I never realized how big of a traitor Hanssen was.
Me: I’ll say. For more than two decades he delivered countless pages of classified documents to the Russians. He also compromised scores of individuals that had managed to infiltrate the Soviet military and Kremelin – a few of which were summarily executed. Over that time he basically sold out his country for the relatively paltry sum of only $600,000.
The Honeybee: Still in a way I couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for him.
Me: Really? Not me.
The Honeybee: I’m not excusing what he did, but the movie did show him to be really troubled.
Me: Well, this story picks up during the final two months of the FBI’s investigation of Hanssen, who by the way was played by Chris Cooper, and even though I knew how this story turned out in the end, I really didn’t care.
The Honeybee: I didn’t either. I also didn’t mind that this story lacked any special effects.
Me: That is unless you’re willing to count the vampire-like appearance that Cooper sported throughout the entire movie. Cooper’s ghost-white face and ruby-red lips made him look more like a close relative of The Joker than a super spy.
The Honeybee: Oh come on! Don’t you think you’re exaggerating his appearance just a little bit? I didn’t even notice that little peeve of yours until you pointed it out last night.
Me: Please! Five minutes into the movie I was waiting for Commissioner Gordon to make an appearance and fire up the bat signal over the Washington Monument.
The Honeybee: Despite your whining, you liked the movie, right?
Me: Yes, I loved it! Filmed on location in Washington, D.C., Breach had a well-crafted story line and, for the most-part, terrific acting. Despite his ghastly appearance, Cooper, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Adaptation, was absolutely incredible playing such a complex and emotionally torn character as Hanssen.
The Honeybee: The supporting cast of Laura Linney, Denis Haysbert and Gary Cole were really good too.
Me: Absolutely! Although I must say, Haysbert better watch it. He’s done so many Allstate commercials by now that every time he appears in a scene I half-expect him to break into his “You’re in good hands” routine.
The Honeybee: For liking this movie so much you sure have a lot of complaints. Anything else bug you?
Me: Since you asked, yes. I’m always left shaking my head whenever I see the acting of the ex-Mr. Reese Witherspoon, a.k.a. Ryan Phillipe who, by the way, also starred in Crash. Is it just me, or does this guy always seem like a deer caught in the headlights when he’s on camera?
The Honeybee: Well, I agree Phillipe is not a very good actor; and he was totally out of his league in this film.
Me: Ironically, Phillipe’s amateurish performance was perfect considering he played Eric O’Neill, the FBI trainee assigned to work for Hanssen as his clerk. O’Neill was tasked by the FBI to gain Hanssen’s trust and watch his every move – the goal was to catch Hanssen in the act so he could be charged with the death penalty with the hope it would pressure him to talk.
The Honeybee: I thought Breach was so good because it focused on Hanssen and O’Neill’s relationship – and it was really a weird relationship if you ask me.
Me: That’s because Hanssen was one messed up dude, mentally – basically a psychopath. The only flaw in Breach that I could find, other than Cooper’s make-up, was that the movie failed to explore the reasons why Hanssen decided to become a turncoat. But that is a minor nit. So what’s your verdict, Honeybee?
The Honeybee: I thought this was a very good movie. A definite “buy!”
Me: Me too. Breach is one movie you don’t want to miss.
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