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In Theatres: 
Feb 16, 2007
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 50 Minutes

Based on a true story, this film explores the F.B.I. investigation of Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), a top intelligence agent who secretly sold classified government information to foreign powers. His decade-spanning treason caused incalculable damage to U.S. interests and is the largest breach of security in American history.

For all of the buildup and potential that this film had the payoff was pretty tame. The pace of the story is generally slow but determined with occasional pauses thrown in so Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe can stare distrustfully at each other for what seems to be minutes at a time. Knowing the outcome of the featured events doesn’t necessarily dispel the tension of the film. Be it through faithful attention to the facts or dramatic exaggeration, the suspense is maintained by the continuously suspicious Hanssen who repeatedly comes within moments of discovering the mission of his F.B.I.-planted underling, Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe).

Chris Cooper is in great form with his role. He brings a conflicted determination to Hanssen that carries the film through the rough patches and generally neutral performances from the most of the remaining cast. As is usually his way, Cooper presents layers of character depth and emotion almost without the need for dialogue. The pain, accusation, and conviction in his face and voice supplies Breach with substance that allows it to be more than just an average drama/thriller.

Ryan Phillipe has almost come far enough into the realm of real acting to manage this role. “Almost” doesn’t change his two serious expressions. One looks like he’s being asked a brain teasing riddle just as he’s caught by a woman he was ogling, the other is blank with a slightly furrowed Mr. Serious brow. While this works well enough through most of the film, it’s pretty hard to believe that Ryan’s deer-in-headlights stare would stand up to the focused scrutiny of Chris Cooper’s Hanssen.

Breach is an above average film. There’s no sense of greatness but it’s worth seeing. Catching a matinee show may make you feel better about seeing it in the theatres but it’s worth a full price ticket as well.

Review by Baron Aloha