Universal Breach (HD-DVD / DVD Combo) Inspired by true events, "Breach" is a gripping and intense thrillerthat takes you deep inside the halls of the FBI for a top-secret investigation to uncover the greatest breach in the... more » history of US Intelligence. Featuring powerful performances by Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillipe, nothing is as it seems in this suspenseful, action-packed film that will keep you riveted until the climatic ending.« less
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Former Spy Rates This Movie Superb
Robert D. Steele | Oakton, VA United States | 06/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I served as a spy for CIA on three clandestine tours, and one of my headquarters tours was in counterintelligence, where I got to know just how un-seriously CIA takes that topic. The dirty little secret at CIA is that Ames was not the only traitor, a brand new career trainee gave up ten or so of our Soviet agents in place, all killed. In this movie, the damage that Hansen did is severely over-stated, and the facts of the matter are not as they should be, but I still give this a five star rating because the movies is absolutely top notch on the personality details.
This movie is much superior to The Good Shepard. The only other spy movies that really come close are those featuring Alec Guiness as George Smiley.
The reviewers that cannot understand motive will never understand spys and traitors. One line in this movie really grabbed me--in it, Hansen talks about how "the US can be likened to a powerfully built but retarded child." Throughout the movie, Hansen is cast as a devout even obsessive Catholic who cannot get people inside the FBI to realize how vulnerable they are, and ultimately I would conclude from the movie that the motivation may have started as a desire to prove a point, then a slow burn into addiction--making fools of those that would not listen.
The movie misrepresents the clerk as counter-spy. The FBI actually caught Hansen by going through his trash and finding the one note that he failed to destroy. Still and all the individual depictions, from the hardened solitary female senior special agent with no one in her life, not even a cat, to various others, are excellent. Especially meaningful to me is the depiction of the loving wife that becomes suspicious and then unloving because she confuses her husband's loyalty to duty and secrecy with inattention and being scorned, and of course that is rarely the case. Spies need loving trusting wives.
This and "The Falcon and the Snowman" are first rate. Anything with Alec Guiness as George Smiley is first rate. For amusement I like the more recent James Bond films, the Smiths, and True Lies.
Smiley's People (3pc) (Coll) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Falcon and the Snowman Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Widescreen Edition) Casino Royale (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) True Lies
Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11--How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA Deep Cover: The Inside Story of How DEA Infighting, Incompetence and Subterfuge Lost Us the Biggest Battle of the Drug War Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'"
Breach Features Perpetual Suspense, Moral Ambiguities
Michael Walter | Washington State | 06/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Breach is a nerve-wracking thriller. Based on a true story, its characters are nearly archetypical, a fact that gives the film, along with its extensive moral ambiguities, haunting power. Here, it's impossible to get away from the big themes: religion, sexuality, psychology, and professionalism are at full and merciless play.
The film is plot and character-driven, without any special effects gloss. Most of it consists of dialogue between Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) and Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe). O'Neill is assigned to keep tabs on Hanssen, providing detailed reports to Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney). Mysterious deadlines loom, and Hanssen, a veteran of Cold War politics, is a tad suspicious of all the goings-on. Hanssen and O'Neill move from room to room, situation to situation; each scene adds a layer of suspense. Further, both men have intriguing and complex moral selves. These selves are illuminated via startling combinations of beliefs and personality traits.
Cooper is amazing as Hanssen. To my mind, he's one of the most fascinating of today's male screen personas, communicating a visible emotional depth and intensity that's fraught with ragged edges. Ryan Phillippe subtly and thoroughly transforms himself through mannerism, voice, and expression. Linney's Burroughs is, on the surface, as hard as nails; a more complicated personality is suggested when she delivers a few moments of much-needed humor, without which the film would be unbearable.
Director Billy Ray has made a film that's polished from start to finish. He and the screenwriters tell the story dispassionately, clinically; they give it an ambiance of objectivity but delay final revelations and easy summaries. Tak Fujimoto's photography is just right, particularly during that bridge sequence, when we get a sense of how quietly and in what solitude people can be betrayed. As a whole, the film has a fascinating, music-like structure.
The whole thing is unforgettable, and the extras on the DVD are great. Plunge into the suspense, but have a comedy ready to watch afterwards. "
H. Schneider | window seat | 06/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Obviously it is a very personal question whether something bores someone or not. I, personally, am puzzled by reviews which find this brillant movie boring. Obviously there is no element of uncertainty in the story: we know from the start what will happen, just because we read newspapers. But due to the smart dialogues and the brillant acting by Chris Cooper and Ryan Philippe, there is an amazing level of suspense. Cooper's Hanssen should make him a serous Oscar candidate next year, if things are fair in Hollywood. Not that he is short of recognition, of course. He gives us a contradictory, flawed, dominant, and entirely believable psychopath. An office tyrant with a heavy catholic fundamentalist ground swell and slight overtones of erotic madness and damaged ego. The character of his wife, Bonnie, gets less attention than she deserves. How mad is she, after all? Is she involved in any of Hanssen's not so above-board activities? One would like to know. If I have to complain about something: early in the story, you hear Ryan Ph.'s and his German wife's voice recorder, and her German text is clearly spoken by a non-German. Sometimes these little things can be annoying. Why do American movies so often not make an effort to get their wee little bits of foreign language exposure right? (take Geisha or The Good German as prime examples) "
Tense, Layered, Incisive Game of Cat-and-Mouse in the F.B.I.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 06/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Robert Hanssen was arrested in 2001 for espionage, he was the biggest betrayer of his country in United States history. He was also one of the very few who did it for reasons other than money. "Breach" introduces us to Hanssen and the world that he inhabited at the F.B.I. through the story of Eric O'Neill, who spent 2 months working closely with Hanssen in order to obtain evidence against him. This account is fictionalized in some aspects, but it strives to be a character study of sharp, duplicitous Hanssen as well as a tense, compelling drama. F.B.I. surveillance operative Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is assigned by Special Agent Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) to work under Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), a talented 25-year veteran agent, allegedly in order to find evidence that Hanssen is a pornographer. Eric comes to respect Hanssen's maverick ways and insight in spite of his gruff, threatening manner and eventually questions the case against his boss.
The scenario is naturally suspenseful: Hanssen is a master of deception, so deceiving him is a challenge. Eric learns to exploit Hanssen's ego and his obsessive religiosity -he was a member of Opus Dei- to gain his trust. The situation is urgent. The Bureau must catch Hanssen red-handed, selling secrets to the Russians, before he retires in a few months. "Breach"'s brilliance is in its layered presentation of Hanssen and his professional life. We know the outcome but are captivated by the finer points. The characters constantly lie to disguise their agendas. Hanssen is right about many things, but his ideals are at the mercy of his overwhelming spite and egoism. Hanssen would be a distasteful character even if he were not a spy whose actions resulted in 3 deaths. But Chris Cooper's extraordinary performance inspires the audience's sympathy and our revulsion at the same time. I can't praise this taut, smart script enough, and Chris Cooper's work may be the most memorable performance this year.
The DVD (Universal 2007): There are 3 featurettes, 2 alternate and 8 deleted scenes with optional commentary, and an audio commentary by writer/director Billy Ray and the real Eric O'Neill. "Breaching the Truth" (10 min) interviews the director, creative team, cast and the real Eric O'Neill and wife Juliana about how the movie came to be made and challenges of making a film about real people and events. In "Anatomy of a Character" (7 min), Chris Cooper, Billy Ray, and Eric O'Neill talk about the character of Hanssen, including preparation for the role. "The Mole" (19 min) is a production about the Hanssen case that aired on "Dateline" in March 2001 which offers more detail about his espionage. The audio commentary by Billy Ray and Eric O'Neill is good. They take us through each scene, Ray discussing his intentions, story, characters, sets, and what is fictionalized. O'Neill talks about his experiences with the Hanssen case. Subtitles are available for the film in English SDH, Spanish, and French."
I want to make History
Gunner | Bethlehem,Georgia | 01/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Breach is based on a true story. An FBI trainee is assigned to spy on a veteran Agent who it turns out is selling secrets to the Soviets.
The Robert Hanssen spying case, was -- it is so clear now -- the harbinger of 9/11, a big honking symptom of the entrenched, institutional problems at the FBI that let big clues slip by, clues that might have prevented the horrors of that day. Robert Hanssen, career FBI agent, was intel, and, as Hanssen (Chris Cooper) explains to the agent wannabe assigned to work as his assistant, Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), the intel side of the FBI gets no respect. And, oh, don't get Hanssen started on the lack of interagency cooperation between the FBI and the CIA. Peter Travers
Eric O'Neill, played by Ryan Philippe becomes discouraged with his FBI career and he goes to his father to discuss whether he should quit. His father tells him the philosophy of his seafaring father, which is an analogy for life. "Get on the boat, do your job, and get back home'. Eric O'Neill is a surveillance-operative for the FBI and his goal is to be promoted to a full Agent. One day he is called into a meeting with Agent Burroughs, played by Laura Linney. She tells him he is being assigned to the desk of Robert Hanssen, and that Hanssen is suspected of posting sexual content on the Internet. His job will be to watch Hanssen's every move and to report back to Burroughs. Within a short while O'Neill doubts his job, as he has come to respect Hanssen.
O'Neill confronts Burroughs and the real story is told. Hanssen has been feeding top secret information to enemies for twenty years, and the damage is in the millions of dollars and dozens of lives. Now O'Neill finds himself pitted against one of the finest minds in the FBI.
The drama and suspense in this movie is overwhelming. This story is partially known as the story begins. However, the story progresses and the life of Robert Hanssen is laid bare. The power of the finale is superb. We are left to wonder about the man Hanssen at the end. This is a story of the real world of politics and espionage. The real story is that of the relationship that develops between O'Neill and Hanssen. The mind games that are played are essential to the whole. Chris Cooper is phenomenal as Hanssen. One of the better acting roles I have seen this year. Ryan Philippe playing O'Neill is the perfect foil.