Breach (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) [HD DVD]
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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 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.

Is a mystery really mysterious when the end isn't a secret? Is espionage still thrilling when you know beforehand that the cloak has been pulled back and the dagger revealed? If it's a film as good as Breach, the answer is a resounding yes. Here is a true story that's genuinely stranger than fiction: FBI agent Robert Hanssen spent over 20 years selling government secrets to the Russians, making him the most egregious traitor in U.S. history. He was an Opus Dei Catholic and a devout churchgoer who was also a sexual deviant, a straitlaced company man so trusted by his employers that they once appointed him to lead an investigation designed to reveal who the spy was--when in fact it was Hanssen himself. And in the end, he was brought down in part by 26-year-old Eric O'Neill, an agent-in-training who worked with him for just two months. Chris Cooper, a 2003 supporting actor Oscar winner for Adaptation, is brilliant in the lead role, playing Hanssen as a dour, cold, ultraconservative cipher (women in pantsuits are just one of his peeves) whose conversations more closely resemble interrogations. Ryan Phillippe is also excellent as O'Neill, who's initially kept in the dark by the superior (Laura Linney) who assigned him to help expose Hanssen's treachery; thinking he's been brought in only to gather evidence about his boss' sexual transgressions, O'Neill finds himself caught in a profound moral conundrum, grudgingly admiring Hanssen even as his own marriage is severely tested by the older man's creepy and hypocritical intrusion into their lives, not to mention the FBI's strict rules against discussing the case.

Director Billy Ray (whose previous feature was also a true story: Shattered Glass, about the young writer who fabricated stories for The New Republic) and co-screenwriters Adam Mazer and William Rotko do an extraordinary job of maintaining the tension as the story leads to the conclusion that's been revealed in the first few frames (i.e., Hanssen's arrest in February 2001); the exquisite torture of O'Neill's having to keep Hanssen distracted while Bureau technicians search the latter's car is but one example. Moreover, notwithstanding the plot developments, the filmmakers manage to keep their focus on the personal interactions that are the film's key element: the relationships that O'Neill maintains with Hanssen, his father (a cameo by Bruce Davison), his wife (Caroline Dhavernas), and others are entirely credible. At once fascinating and horrifying, Breach is inarguably one of the best films of 2007. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews:

  • First-rate Thriller
    Robert Hanssen is widely considered to be the worst traitor in the history of the American intelligence services. While a special agent in the intelligence division of the FBI, Hanssen sold out his country and caused the death of key American agents in the Soviet Union. This movie attempts to answer the question of why he did it, while thrilling us with the story of how he was caught.

    Hanssen is a complicated man: a religious, "Opus Dei" Catholic and a pornographer who sends abroad movies of his sexual relations with his wife; a right-wing conservative who spies for the Soviets; a loving grandfather who overreacts to minor slights; a paranoid who wound up trusting the one man sent to make the case against him. Although "Breach" does not really explain Hanssen's motivation, it appears that Hanssen had no small measure of resentment against the FBI for failing to recognize his talents and promote him to the position he believed he deserved. Chris Cooper captures Hanssen in a five-star performance that should win an Academy Award.

    Laura Linney is also outstanding as the Special Agent in charge of the investigation of Hanssen. The nerve-wracking investigation, full of twists, turns and near-misses, demands total commitment. For once, we get to see a realistic career woman, totally dedicated to her demanding job, and not messing up or falling in love with any of the other characters in the movie.

    If you are trying to choose between "Breach" and "The Good Shepherd" (a fictionalized story of the founding of the CIA), choose "Breach." While "Breach" is really more of a detective story than an espionage drama (because we know early on that Hanssen is a spy), the plot is thrilling and believable. Best of all, "Breach" is an outstanding portrait of a complicated man. ...more info
  • This movie surprised me!!!
    I didn't know quite what to expect when I bought this movie.
    I knew the cast was good and that encouraged me to buy it. Chris
    Cooper is superb and so believable. Not alot of fast action, just
    good honest story telling.
    It does show how vunerable we are as a nation....more info
  • Fascinating subject matter let down by obvious treatment
    "Breach" tells the fascinating true story of the final few months in the career of FBI veteran Robert Hanssen leading up to his arrest for being a traitor in 2001. The film reinforces the hypocrisy of Hanssen - on the one hand attending church everyday yet on the other betraying his country and indulging in deviant sexual practices. Unfortunately the film lays things on a bit too obviously especially at the very end detracting from the impact. Ryan Phillipe is good as the Hanssen's clerk Eric O'Neill, sent in to monitor Hanssen in his final few months, but the other key characters Hanssen (Chris Cooper), O'Neill's boss (Laura Linney), and O'Neill's wife are all somewhat one-dimensional....more info
  • Not too fond of Ryan Phillippe, but....
    Chris Cooper (Robert Hanssen) and Laura Linney (Kate Burroughs) were excellent. A very strange movie with lots of intriguing details - such as the pen, the boat painting, the Catholic Catechism book on Hanssen's desk, and Burroughs' "I don't even have a cat" summary of her work-centered life. I enjoyed Hanssen's opinions about the stupidity and waste (not to mention the obsese SUVs with only two passengers) caused by bureaucrats and micromanagement. Most of the gov't employees looked sad.

    The scene in the woods with Hanssen and O'Neill was particularly disturbing. It showed such desperation and the broken-down depravity of humans.

    The writers bashed Catholics a bit too much, but that's hardly a new movie theme. Lovely soundtrack.

    Hollywood messed up while attempting to portray gun use - Hanssen was in the firing range without safety glasses (also annoyingly displayed on the dvd cover...I get angry just looking at it). As bureaucratic as the gov't is, I can't imagine that they would allow such a "breach" of safety. Even at most public ranges, you're refused entry unless you have the glasses (and ear protection). The other guy had glasses on, so maybe Hanssen just refused to wear them out of spite. Who knows.

    In any case, a great movie if you enjoy spy thrillers. It's even more fascinating to me because it's based on true events, which add depth and curiosity - I'm now looking forward to researching Hanssen and O'Neill online. Movies that make you care about history are usually worth watching....more info
  • Great!!
    This is my first time using Amazon's movie downloading system,so it took almsot 8 hours to download yesterday and I watched it this afternoon.Excellent dramatization of a true story,I remember when this story broke a few years and not much was said afterwards abiut this FBI agent.
    Suspenseful and the acting by the actors especially Ryan Phillipe was believable.
    Downloadable movie was pretty decent,especially for the promotion price of $2.00 and I get a month to watch it over again.Did is a good service if you want to cut back on DVD's (space-wise) and start collecting your movies on your laptop or desktop.Probably need to get a 4gb flashdrive to transfer to them,for when you're on the go....more info
  • A stunning depiction of a tortured, evil man
    "Breach" is the most unpleasant and morbidly fascinating tale of Robert Phillip Hansenn, one of the worst traitors in American history: actually, the movie downplays just how treacherous he was in terms of how many deaths he is responsible for, not to mention the extremely high security nature of the secrets he was selling.

    Chris Cooper makes the movie as the monstrously hypocritical and somehow entranching Hansenn: face pale and drawn, ultra-conservative and outwardly a devout Catholic, bitter and cruel with unexpected moments trust and warmth, he seems the personification of what can happen what an individual identifies too much with his nation--and all the while he is committing high treason and engaging in sexual deviance by distributing tapes of him and his wife copulating. Ryan Phillipe turns in a golly gee All American Boy performance as the extraordinary Eric O' Neill, the agent who put Hansenn exactly where he belongs: in a solitary cell 23 hours a day.

    Everything somehow falls to the sidelines of Cooper's performance, however: the perverse enigma of his character is unforgettable. He plays a broken, ruined man in need of validation, friendship, or something outside the narrow locus of his "clean cut" life. At one point he asks O' Neill, finding himself in ever more compromised positions trying to get the drop on his target, whether this job is too much for him. He says "Yes, sir". Hansenn's response is: "Pray more".

    This is more of a character study than anything else, though at times the stunning incompetence of the FBI might disturb the viewer more than information about Hansenn's activities; he wasn't caught until he was 56 years old, and if they hadn't sicked O'Neill on him, he probably would have walked. Cooper manages to evoke some pity for Hansenn with his masterfully macabre and conflicted performance: the real Hansenn doesn't deserve much. The film references his "harassing female subordinates": he did more than that, on one occasion actually dragging another agent across the floor for leaving one of his meetings early. When the FBI showed up at the drop point, Hansenn's response was not "Pray for me" or anything like that, but "What took you so long?" Nonetheless, this is a compulsively watchable, nail biting horrorshow and an interesting, if horrifying, story to boot....more info
  • so slllllllllllooooooowwwwwwwwwww
    if this movie raced the tortoise, the tortoise would win hands down. you have to appreciate it for what it was, a REAL LIFE spy story, but being that it is hollywood, it could have been a used some injections of life. this movie is like listening to a nice instrumental, without a real crescendo. nothing really takes you to the edge. hannsen is also a real d*ck. ...more info
  • Excellent
    This is a very well made film about a true story of betrayal to one's country and those who work to catch him in the act. I love non-fiction whether it is in book form or films.

    Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney are all superb in their roles. The supporting cast does a great job too.

    I really enjoyed the special features on the DVD where we meet the real Eric O'Neill and his wife Juliana, along with behind-the-scenes commentary and video.

    If you love suspense and great story-telling, I recommend this film. If you think a film drags without car crashes and explosions, I recommend you skip this intelligent movie.

    ...more info
  • well done
    Despite the well known facts of this case, the actors and director make it worth your time. Cooper brings out the freak in the bad guy. Was he really this weird? One would think he would be more docile and unassuming to carry off this treason....more info
  • Not what I expected...
    I saw the previews for this film at the beginning of a different one, and immediatly wanted to see it although I really didn't know what it was about: I don't even remember realizing that it was based on a true story.

    I personally don't think that this film is the typical 'spy' film; it's certainly loads different than any James Bond movie, and a far cry from any of the Bourne movies either. This isn't a bad thing: it's just a different thing. Some of the reviewers claimed that the film is to slow or boring, but I think that those reviewers have completely missed the point of the film - and the man that the film is about.

    After I watched the film I did a little of my own research on Robert Hanssen and found that even where the film might not have followed his story exactly (Hanssen never actually came over to the O'Neill's house, O'Neill's not the one who actually downloaded information from Hanssen's PDA, et. al.) it still does an excellent job of just stretching the events enough to make them a little more exciting without actually creating something altogether different (Hanssen and O'Neill had apparently planned to go for dinner, but it would have been after Hanssen was arrested, and Hanssen DID ask O'Neill if he'd gone through his bag after the information had been downloaded by people that O'Neill had brought the PDA to - and had nearly not gotten it back in the bag on time).

    I also like how key phrases were inserted, even though we might not have noticed. Early on in the film Hanssen tells O'Neill something like "[he'll piss purple if Hanssen ever catches [O'Neill] in his office again]." In real life, it was hearing this phrase (that Hanssen often said) on a tape that the FBI got from an ex-KGB member that helped them realize that the mole they were looking for was actually Hanssen, not a different individual who they had suspected.

    The crimes that Hanssen committed were not full of action and drama. As the film shows, Hanssen would simply put information in Hefty plastic bags and leave them at drop points for the Russians to pick up. He wasn't intested in a lot of money because he knew that if he'd spend big hunks of money all of a sudden, people would be onto him. To put too much action and drama into this film would be to misunderstand the story.

    Hanssen did do things that could be deemed slightly socially defective, like run people into walls, copiers, etc., when he'd walk with someone, as is depicted in the film. All the little isms about who Hanssen was/is are what make the film: not action and drama. I think that Chris Cooper portrays Hanssen brilliantly, and Phillippe does an excellent job with O'Neill.

    Overall an excellent film, I'm looking forward to watching it again! ...more info
  • The life of another liar
    Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), a young FBI employee who is desperate to become an agent, is assigned to spy on Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), a top FBI agent, family man and devout Catholic, who also happens to have been selling government secrets to the Russians for the past 16 years.

    "Breach" is writer/director Billy Ray's second film as director and touches on many of the same themes as his first film, "Shattered Glass" (about fabulist Stephen Glass). Both films are based on the true stories of men whose whole lives were based on falsehoods and both films deal with the downfall and resulting implications of their demise for these men and those around them. Being a huge fan of "Shattered Glass", it came as no surprise to me that I also liked "Breach". In a way, the strong similarities between "Shattered Glass" and "Breach" detracted from "Breach", since I would have liked to see Billy Ray extend himself more. Nevertheless, "Breach" is still a great film.

    Although Robert Hanssen was a traitor to his country, instead of portraying him as a man who is purely evil, he is portrayed as a weak man who still has some good features. That is, he is portrayed as a human being, albeit a flawed one, rather than a cardboard cut-out villain. Chris Cooper gives an excellent performance in this role. This isn't the first film I've seen him in (in fact, it's the seventh), but it's the first time that I've really taken any notice of him.

    The script of this film is also great, if a little bit by-the-book (its structure follows that given in screenwriting texts to the letter, not that that's a bad thing). When you think about it, a film about one man spying on his boss has the potential to be completely boring. Yet, Ray turns this into a well-written, well-paced thriller with plenty of moments of genuine tension. Several of the scenes in the film seem far too cinematic to be true, which makes me wonder how close this film kept to the fact. Nevertheless, even if this film turns out to be 95% fiction, that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a highly enjoyable movie that will make you think.
    ...more info
  • A true story about a spy who almost got away with a lifetime of treachery
    Who wouldn't believe a guy who went to church daily, was a devoted family man with a loving wife and several children, who lived modestly, and went everyday to his job as FBI Agent in Washington, D.C. for 22 years?

    Yet, this man, Robert Hanssen, spyed for the Soviets for all of those 22 years so convincingly that he almost got away with what is called the most devastating breach of U.S. security in history.

    Chris Cooper recreates the man, Robert Hanssen, with an intensity that is uncanny. He portrays the secrecy, the duplicity, and the Dr. Jekyl - Mr. Hyde personality of Hanssen brilliantly. The cast which includes Laura Linney and Kathleen Quinlan is excellent as well.

    Breach is unnerving, fascinating, chilling, and suspenseful, even though we know what the ending will be at the beginning. The best film I have seen in a long time....more info
  • Caught with a red hand
    Although the acting is pretty first rate here, the story is dreadful.
    The script writer is to blame.
    It is like they waited until the last moments of the story and, then, blew them up minute by minute.
    He spied for 22 years and they have about a month in this story.
    Moles in the security agencies are the worst fear,
    and they put this one in charge of finding himself...
    There has been a long history of the CIA and FBI being the worst ever at preventing leaks.
    The Russian A bomb came from such a leak....more info
  • slow motion
    being a fan of fast moving action movies or thrillers, I must admit that the Breach didn't fit in perfectly within that scope - and honnestly I found it difficult not to fall asleep. But the actors and the intrigue kept me awake though. Not so bad after all!...more info
  • Amazing Story, Nicely Presented

    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....more info
  • Cat-and-mouse game
    Eric O'Neill, an FBI agent-wannabe, is assigned as a clerk for Robert Hanssen, a man who is suspected of being a double-agent. At first O'Neill is not aware of his boss's guilt, but eventually he is told the full extent of the evidence against him. He is expected to help out in the investigation, and he risks his personal safety to do so. His marriage suffers as his wife feels he does not confide in her because he doesn't trust her. Hanssen is, on the surface, a devout Catholic and he tries to force his practices on Erik and his wife. Eric begins to see what a double-minded man his boss is and he does everything in his power to help in the investigation against Hanssen. This is a true story about the most heinous spy America has ever had with over 20 years of treachery. The movie is well-written, well-acted and it builds suspense and tension throughout....more info
  • DVD-like quality?
    Apart from the fact that I cannot use this service as as German customer here, I would never use it as it simply doesn't hold up to its promise.

    The average bitrate for any contemporary movie on DVD is anywhere between 4000 to 7000 kbps. In short, this title is not DVD-like quality, it is slighty better than the quality offered by video-CDs....more info
  • The great acting cannot overcome the pace
    Breach is a classic espionage movie. Eric O'Neill (Ryan Philippe) is sent to work on the daunting task of spying on a spy. He's paired with a veteran agent named Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Initially, O'Neill is given the assignment by Agent Burroughs (Laura Linney) under the guise that Hanssen has been posting sexual content on the web. Eventually he discovers that Hanssen is involved in something much more despicable.

    From there it's a somewhat tense battle of wills as O'Neill, Burroughs, and all involved do whatever they can to uncover the web of lies and deceit being perpetrated by Hanssen, while he does everything he can to hide his intention and his actions.

    It's well acted, and the story itself is fairly interesting. If it were a documentary on the History channel, I would have been much more interested - because there would have been many more details. And while I appreciate the fact that it stayed true to the content, there was simply something lacking in the delivery of the story, not to mention the fact that the explanation of Hanssen's actions was nearly absent. Sooner or later there needs to be a little bit of video stimulation to go along with the audio counterpart.

    In the end it's a spy movie that falls flat because of bad pacing, painfully slow sequences, long-winded and uninteresting dialogue, and a great deal of disappointment. The movie is coma-inducing during portions of the movie, slower than wheelchair stuck the mud, and much like running on the beach, the arduous effort doesn't seem to be nearly as worthwhile or as running on a flat surface....more info
  • An "Edge of Your Seat" movie
    I really didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. What an incredible movie! It literally will keep you on the edge of your seat!...more info
  • Great Movie
    I loved this movie. It portrays the two month period before Hansen was arrested. Hansen had been promoted to a meaningless position and assigned a "clerk" who was given the task of spying on Hansen so the FBI could get information on Hansen and hopefully catch him in the act of spying. Because a trial might be necessary, the details of this two month period and the clerk's role were "classified." Consequently, the writers of the books on Hansen and the creators of the other movie on this subject (Master Spy)were not aware of the details of this critical period of time or the role played by the clerk. As the movie's commentary makes clear, the movie is pretty accurate, with a few exceptions (Hansen and his wife visiting the clerk and his wife unannounced; Hansen loosing it and firing his gun in the woods). The commentary (with the director and the actual FBI clerk) is well worth watching even though the director goes "on and on" praising his actors. All of the acting in this movie is outstanding and Chris Cooper should get an Academy Award. This is one of my favorite movies....more info
  • Very Good
    Very well done. Even more so as it is a TRUE STORY! Acting was brilliant....more info
  • interesting history
    Chris Cooper is the best thing about the movie. The film definately left me wanting to know a lot more about Hanssen, before and after the fairly brief time period covered by the movie....more info
  • Motive remains the mystery
    Well this is certainly an excellent film. The script is smart and requires constant attention. The acting is superb. The narrative and editing are fast paced and yet the viewer does not get lost. The story is compelling, complex, and frightening. Even with all these positive qualities, the film leaves the viewer with one unresolved issue, and that is to fully understand the motives behind FBI agent Robert Hanssen's 20 years of spying for the Soviet Union while nestled in the center of the FBI.

    Chris Cooper is always superb. He is one of the finest actors in films. He is absolute great in this film. The other actors are excellent also but Cooper's performance was over and beyond excellent. He fully captured the psychological construction of a highly conflicted and brilliant man. Laura Linney is cool and professional in her search for the evidence against Hanssen. Ryan Phillippe, who plays young FBI clerk Eric O'Neill, does not often show emotion on his face or in his tone, but in some ways this allows him to play the 'everyman' type of guy with whom most guys would identify.

    There is considerable wisdom in not over explaining, of allowing conjecture, of leaving lose ends for the audience to tie together. This is the case in this film where motive remains only partly revealed, partially exposed, and never resolved or packaged for the viewer.

    Robert Hanssen was a conservative, Opus Dei Catholic, who engaged in sexual perversions. This fact alone allows us to see that the man contains conflicting emotional forces that are not resolved. But why would he become a traitor for 20 years, resulting in the deaths of many agents and loss of national security? There is a hint that he wished to show the US how vulnerable we really are. But why did it go on for 20 years? There is also considerable resentment and hostility toward authority and FBI management shown by Agent Hanssen. Was he so anti-authoritarian that he secretly wished to undermine the FBI leadership? There is resentment and sarcasm about federal policies and procedures, but every federal employee is subject to these procedures and endures them to get their work done. Was it that FBI leadership failed to recognize how smart he was, to offer him praise and recognition for his analytical abilities? This seems to me to be one of the best partial explanations. He was indeed a smart man, but even the most brilliant man can not expect constant support and praise from supervisors and leaders. The lack of constant praise, recognition, and verbal reinforcement is punishment for some personalities without a centered stable core self concept. Hanssen had strict rules for himself and family but strict rules maintained obsessively is actually about control of impulses and negative feelings more so than about organizational skills and high morality. The person with a strong sense of self is able to give themselves recognition and reward when they feel their advice has been ignored by leadership or they feel they are not appreciated. A person with a strong sense of self has the ability to empathize and realize there are lots of smart folks in federal jobs and no one gets constantly reinforced. Instead a healthy attitude is that bright employees have to take turns in the spotlight. Hanssen was vulnerable because he lacked this strong center. He was smart and organized but he was far from self-actualized, thus making him very vulnerable under pressure.
    ...more info
  • Chris Cooper Is Simply Fantastic!
    You've seen and read all of the great reviews for "Breach", consider this another one. It's an intelligent movie that takes it's time to tell a true story. The acting is nothing less than superb, but one has to single out the wonderfully nuanced performance by Chris Cooper as one of the finest in recent years. He's already won one Oscar, and with this film truly takes his place near the top of Hollywood's "A" list! Ryan Phillippe continues to impress, and Laura Linney gives her usual great performance. "Breach" is film-making at it's best!
    ...more info
  • A Good Movie
    Breach is a good movie. Great for a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon. The film is suspensful in parts. The acting good, but somehow it doesn't reach the category of great. I walked away with more questions than answers. That said, I would still recommend it....more info
  • Fine film
    This is an excellent movie, marred only by the penchant of young leads Ryan Philippe and Laura Linney to mumble their lines (in an early bedroom scene, I wanted English subtitles) and by the "law and order" stereotypes that mar so many modern cop shows. The film is also bitterly anti-Catholic, but one expects that from Hollywood. Director Billy Ray and lead actor Chris Cooper may well win Academy Awards for their outstanding performances. Cooper commands riveting attention at all times. ...more info
  • Cooper is absolutely fantastic in the role as Hanssen!
    Robert Hanssen, an FBI special agent, was as successful a spy as America ever had. The trouble was that he did his spying for the Soviet Union. He was only brought to book in 2001, after 500 operatives had spent months stealthily investigating him.
    Hanssen had spilt secrets for some 22 years during the Cold War and was clearly more intelligent than most of those who suspected him. He was certainly a great deal more experienced than Eric O'Neill, the 26-year-old special surveillance agent who was detailed to work as his assistant and, if possible, to betray him. He was also, amazingly enough, a devout Catholic and a member of Opus Dei.
    Such a story would seem to lend itself to a thrilling movie. But Billy Ray, who both wrote and directed, has made a film that eschews an explosive approach and quietly explores what made Hanssen tick and how a young assistant, also a Catholic, gradually wormed his way into the superspy's confidence.
    This is an intelligent film, with first-class performances from Chris Cooper as Hanssen and a pretty good one from Ryan Phillippe as O'Neill. ...more info
  • Compelling and Accurate
    FBI agent Robert Hanssen was hardly the only traitor in U.S. history, but he was the worst by many accounts, although Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Robert Fuchs, Aldrich Ames, and a few others would have to be in the sweepstakes.

    A movie about such a man is usually done in the historic format, unfolding the man's espionage career, the methods, the information given up: In short, a chronology of the spy's career. Any screenplay about Hanssen would be expected to be ion this format but BREACH is not. This movie is more like a biopic, with the star spy's last few months 'on the job' chronicled from the point of view of 26-year-old Eric O'Neill, an agent-in-training who worked with him for just two months.

    O'Neill at first admired and sympathized with Hanssen, who seemed like a somewhat-wronged, brilliant, straitlaced FBI man, devoutly Catholic and devoted to his family. Only gradually does O'Neill (Chris Cooper plays the role well) come to suspect and eventually fear Hanssen.

    It is this compelling story that makes BREACH a great film to watch-- the suspense, drama, and human interaction are intense throughout. A dark, chilly atmosphere pervades as Director Billy Ray combines good timing with ambience.

    Chris Cooper is so engaging as an utterly exothermic Hanssen that this movie should be added to the collection of anyone interested in the genre or just a good drama. It is worth repeated watching.

    Maybe it's just me, but BREACH seems like a candidate for a SPOOKY triple-bill along with The Good Shepherd and Costner's No Way Out.

    ...more info
  • Very Interesting
    Since we know from the very beginning how this movie is going to end (with the arrest of spy Robert Hanssen), it's an achievement that Breach keeps the viewer engaged in the fall of this apparently patriotic and devout family man who ends up betraying everything he stands for. Chris Cooper is simply brilliant in this complex and dark role and Laura Linney shines, as she always does. The director made the decision not to answer why Hanssen did what he did, and although that's a valid choice, I wish the filmmakers had tried to give us an honest answer. I still wonder about it. The movie also suffers from the lack of talent of Ryan Phillippe, who is the same guy in every movie I've ever seen him in: an arrogant, cocky guy, with an inflated ego. He was the same in Breach and in Cruel Intentions and it's a shame. Breach could have used a better actor. ...more info
  • Breach
    This movie is very good. It showed that even the FBI had one rotten apple. I'm glad the FBI caught Robert Philip Hanssen. I hope there are no more like him....more info
  • Chris Cooper is great . . .
    This intelligent, well-directed/well-written film is about the famous contemporary spy for the Russians, Robert Hanssen - an FBI agent selling secrets for over 20 years until caught.

    Besides telling a great story, veteran actor Chris Cooper (you might not even recognize the name, but you'll know him when you see him) turns in a sterling performance as the quirky, smart, religious Hanssen. He "makes the movie" in my opinion and is fascinating to watch and analyze as he works through this. I don't know the personality of the real Robert Hanssen, but Cooper's interpretation of him is golden.

    Kudos to Ryan Phillipe as the young counter-spy, Eric O'Neill, who brings down Hanssen. Laura Linney does a credible job as O'Neill's boss in the FBI's counter-spy operation.

    As a refreshing change, this is a "police movie", without all of the over-the-top fake bravado and continual pistol waving. Thoughtful, intelligent, extremely interesting. A pleasant surprise - recommended....more info
  • Cat and Mouse Games
    They wanted to make Chris Cooper severely evil and twisted, so they made him play the whole role in smudgy pink and blue makeup, and as the movie progresses and he gets caught up in his own lies more and more, the makeup gets even more garish. At the end he looks like Marlene Dietrich in JUST A GIGOLO. They also had him implicated in a bizarre subplot with him and his wife as swingers; Caroline Dhavernas stumbles onto a videotape of the two of them having sex, and she divines instantly that Bonnie didn't know she was being taped. How is she so sure? I wasn't, especially when the wife is being played by the one and only Kathleen Quinlan, practically a neon sign for amorality in the US cinema of the 80s and 90s. (It's always great to see her back. I always think Tuesday Weld gets all the reclame that properly belongs to La Quinlan.)

    Anyhow with his coating of mascara and lipstick Chris Cooper's playing it as if he were the wolf disguised as Grandma in Little Red Riding Hood, so you don't need any real acting, thank God, from Ryan Phillipe, who's always good, but always wears the same bemused expression as though he had some sand in his sandals. Like everyone else, I didn't expect much going in to see this film, and was astounded when it turned out to be one of the best spy thrillers I've ever seen.

    I did think it was overkill however to have President David Palmer playing one of the FBI agents trying to entrap Chris Cooper! Why not just hire George Bush to play the part?...more info
  • spy game
    BREACH is thrilling even if you know the outcome. Actually knowing the outcome makes it at times more tense and interesting. Waiting for the inevitable can have more an effect than not knowing what's coming. Basically this is one of those rare true life stories that is as weird, if not weirder than Hollywood could make up. FBI agent Robert Hanseen sold government secrets to the Russians for 20 years, making him the biggest traitor in all of U.S. history. Chris Cooper is one of the finest actors working today. Of Robert Hanseen Cooper says he is the most contradicted character he has ever played. After seeing the film you can understand where Cooper is coming from. You might feel Hanseen is the most contradicted person you ever heard of. Robert Hanseen was an ultra-conservative and like many conservative types seemed to be talking out one side of his head while going off and acting in ways that, well, don't quite fit with his professed belief system. To say the least. The DVD includes some useful bonus material. Recommended to the general public, highly recommended to serious film fans and required viewing for fans of spy thrillers.

    ...more info
  • Excellent movie even when you know the outcome
    This is an excellent fictionalized account of the John Walker spy case. The acting is superb. I enjoyed the movie enough to recommend it to my mom :)...more info
  • Intelligent & gripping, with brilliant Chris Cooper performance
    I didn't remember all that much about the story of the traitor Robert Hansen...but BREACH sure brought it back. In the very early years of the George W. Bush administration, before 9/11, the arrest of Hansen was a big story. I called him a traitor, rather than a double agent, because the extent of the damage he caused to the US intelligence efforts over a couple of decades was in the billions of dollars and also probably cost the lives of several KGB agents who were working for the US.

    BREACH doesn't quite tell us exactly why Hansen did what he did, but it certainly creates a complex personality and gives us enough clues to draw our own conclusions. As portrayed by the brilliantly cast Chris Cooper, Hansen is highly intelligent, extremely intuitive, bitter, deeply religious, deeply paranoid, socially awkward, not well liked by his peers and also into some kinky stuff. Yet, despite his personality difficulties, he seems to be a top-notch performer and an invaluable asset. My guess would be that Hansen didn't feel valued ENOUGH b y the US, so he made himself important to the Russians.

    Laura Linney (in one of her patented terse, tart performances that doesn't stretch her in the least) plays the primary agent in charge of finally proving Hansen is their man. He's been a suspect for awhile...but there's no proof. Linney conceives of an idea to place a green but up-and-coming young intelligence officer in Cooper's office as his new assistant. Ryan Phillipe, whom I don't always like too much, is very good. He comes into the film as a guy confident that he's got a lot to offer...he's got a great wife, great clothes, great brain and a lot of swagger. But as he is essentially confined to a small office with Cooper (as sterile and unexciting an office as there could possibly be!), the two men begin to affect each other. First, Hansen belittles his new helper, but Phillipe actually learns from this experiences man, and even begins to doubt that there is anything nefarious about him. But Hansen also begins to espouse his deeply held religious beliefs on Phillipe. Both men are Catholics, but Hansen is devoted to a fault...attending mass every day. His recommended cure for stress or pressure at work..."pray more."

    Eventually, Phillipe ingratiates himself to some extent with his new boss...and Hansen loosens up just a little. He comes to trust this young man (as much as he can trust anyone)...and takes a somewhat unhealthy interest in his life and particularly in his wife.

    One can't quite call this a cat and mouse game...because Hansen isn't chasing Phillipe. Nor is it a battle of wits, exactly, because Hansen clearly is superior there as well. But it's a battle of Phillipe's native wit and blazingly fast thinking on his feet vs. Hansen's analytical, experience brain.

    Obviously, you know how this turns out...but it is the journey that is fascinating. The movie is very well written, and the direction is simple and clean. Most of the movie belongs to these two men. While Phillipe holds up his end very well, it is Chris Cooper, in an award-worthy performance, who steals the show. It is far from a flashy performance...this guy is the best actor I've ever seen to have so little charisma (although he sure turned his charisma ON in ADAPTATION!). He always looks vaguely like he has an upset stomach. He brings a particular sourness to this role, combined with great intelligence. It is as complete a characterization as one could ever hope to see in a movie. He's so riveting, that when he IS finally can't help but feel just a little sad seeing it coming to an end.

    I'd also like to compliment Gary Cole's work as a peer of Hansen's, along with Kathleen Quinlan in a small but effective turn as Hansen's wife. Also excellent is Caroline Dhavernas in a critical supporting role as Phillipe's wife...I look forward seeing more of her in the future.

    This is not an action-packed movie...but it is certainly one of the most exciting and intelligent thrillers to come along in a long time. I very heartily recommend it for adult viewers.

    Also, whenever I see a "non-fiction" movie, I always wonder how close to the truth it may have been. The DVD has a bonus feature showing a 20/20 news report on the actual events, shortly after Hansen's arrest. Not only is it interesting, but it confirms how closely BREACH adhered to the real events. It is simply a great true story told very well indeed.
    ...more info
  • Tightly woven, briskly paced and utterly absorbing...
    `Breach' is a fantastic film that took me by surprise; for I never expecting it to hit all the marks it did. I saw the trailer and expected it to be an average government thriller, but what I got was an above average thriller than not only delivered chills (I was on edge throughout this entire film) but it also delivered the right mixture of drama and justice. It is a thought provoking moral driven film that masters its genre quite easily. Thanks to tight scripting and excellent acting the film is further elevated into pristine territory.

    The film, based on a true story, recounts the greatest security breach in US history, one made by a certain Robert Hanssen. You Eric O'Neill, trying desperately to make agent, is handed a job monitoring Hanssen, under the premise that he is being investigated for his questionable extracurricular activities. Eric is a little put off by his new job, especially once he gets to know Hanssen and begins to feel that the investigation is a little unfair; and then he learns the truth behind what he's really after and things begin to change. Hanssen is much smarter than the rest of them and this makes O'Neill uneasy, for he's young and inexperienced, but he has one thing on his side; Hanssen trusts him.

    The film is expertly woven, truly, for it never loses the audience for a single moment. The script brilliantly plays scene off scene, actor off actor, and weaves a very believable and understandable film. I was never lost, wondering what was going on, yet the film is never too simple, never dumbed down for the audience. It is smart and interesting and impeccably crafted.

    The acting is another highlight. Chris Cooper is phenomenal as Hanssen, slipping beneath the man's skin and fleshing out his inner demons. Hanssen has a gruff exterior, but his heart is not as cold as he depicts, and this is seen as he attempts to befriend O'Neill. I never thought that Ryan Phillippe would be able to hold his own aside Cooper or Linney or even Haysbert, but he does. I've liked Phillippe (I adored him in `Cruel Intentions') but for the most part I never saw him as an overly strong actor. Here he holds his own and demands our attention. The way he displays his characters panic while restraining it to mainly his eyes and a few well placed twitches is astonishing. I kept looking at my wife going `he is really pulling this off'. Linney is fine, although she's been better and her character is a little clich¨¦d (my wife asked me a few times if people really talk like that). Haysbert doesn't have a lot to do, but he is always commanding.

    The film belongs to Cooper and Phillippe, and they support each frame masterfully.

    If you are looking for an absorbing thriller that will leave you at the edge of your seat from beginning to end then `Breach' is the film you are looking for. Even if you already know the end (which they share with you at the very beginning) the film will never cease to grab you. The acting is impeccable, the script is spot on and the direction is tight enough to keep the action heavy and our interest unwavering. ...more info
  • Cooper is great...
    ...but the pacing and the dreary visuals leaves this reviewer a little cold. Character actor Chris Cooper never ceases to amaze me. He can become anyone quite convincingly. Phillipe is also showing signs of great potential and because of them this film is entertaining. However, the pacing is all wrong. Too many times I was ready for them to arrest him. There's no surprise-no nail biting scenes that leave you perched on the edge of your seat. This is just a film that's little more than a documentary. I'd rather have seen the information on the History channel. The actors are what makes this a three star for me....more info
  • Your FBI at work, and after only 20 years of traitorous leaks, they bust the case. Chris Cooper is superb
    What do you do with an FBI traitor who for 20 years was feeding serious secrets to the Soviets and then to Russia? If you're the FBI, you don't follow up on tips about the guy, you don't get curious that his expensive life style doesn't match his FBI salary, you ignore his extensive, private hetero kinkiness even though a murmur about homosexuality would get another person booted out the door, and you sure don't want to look too hard and then find a scandal on your hands like the CIA's Aldrich Ames.

    It was in 1979, three years after he joined the FBI, that Robert Hanssen started his career as a spy. It wasn't until 1999 that it occurred to the FBI to look closely at Hanssen. At one point, concerned about the possibility of a mole in their midst, the FBI actually had Hanssen investigating any possible moles within the FBI.

    Don't look for FBI culpability in Breach. The movie barely alludes to all this, yet this is the real story of Robert Hanssen. What we have, instead, is a genuinely fascinating story of the final hunt to nail Hanssen, the hunt for evidence that would stand up in court. To get that evidence the FBI, finally on the job, sends in Eric O'Neill, a young man without much experience to be Hanssen's gofer. The hope is that Hanssen will not see this fellow as a threat and may let down his guard. If the FBI is going to nail Hanssen, they need to catch him in the act of sending classified information to the Russians. Without this, the best they can do is fire him. It's no spoiler to say that Robert Hanssen was arrested in 2001 and is now serving a life sentence in a high security prison, restricted to solitary confinement 23 hours a day. Eric O'Neill did his job.

    That outstanding actor, Chris Cooper, plays Hanssen. It's a magnificent performance, stuffed full with intelligence, arrogance, suspicion, threat and conflict. Hanssen is not a likeable guy, but he's shrewd and smart. The contest between Hanssen's deep suspicions toward anyone and Eric O'Neill's odd combination of apparent naivety and resourceful quick thinking keeps the movie, for the most part, speeding right along. The one real weakness is Laura Linney as O'Neill's boss. It's an unnecessary part and just seems to sit there as a way to feature a star name who can be used now and then for some plot exposition. As much as I like Linney, every time she's on screen I'm reminded that I'm watching a Hollywood movie. That goes for some of the secondary parts, too. The movie needed faces we'd never seen before, except for Cooper. Instead there are too many vaguely familiar Hollywood faces, such as Gary Cole, Dennis Haysbert, and Kathleen Quinlan. They all do good jobs, but their familiarity is distracting.

    Ryan Phillippe as Eric O'Neill gives a first-class, nuanced performance. O'Neill is not thrilled with what he's called upon to do. He can't tell anyone, including his wife, and she's not happy with his long and erratic hours. It's a dangerous, high stress job and the man he's trying to catch is no dummy. Phillippe holds his own with Cooper. It's unfortunate that he has one of those youngish, generically handsome faces. He's a good actor, and I think his looks get in the way of critical appreciation of his skills. The movie stands or falls on the actor who plays Hanssen. Chris Cooper is so good and so believable it's a pleasure to sit back and lose yourself in his performance. He's been memorable is so many movies, but one of his best performances (and a favorite of mine) is in Lone Star....more info
  • "Breach"
    This movie was not as action-packed as I had thought it would be. I enjoyed the story, but to be quite honest, it came to a close rather abruptly. However, the acting was great!...more info
  • The spy who came in from the beltway
    Early in 2001, the FBI capped off its investigation of the most serious national security breach in U.S. history by arresting Robert Hanssen, who had used his access as the Bureau's top Soviet counter-intelligence expert to sell classified information to the KGB.

    That case is dramatized in "Breach", a superb film starring Chris Cooper as Hanssen and directed by Billy Ray, who previously helmed "Shattered Glass" (another true tale dealing with deception and betrayal.)

    The film opens just a few months prior to the arrest. A young, ambitious field agent, Eric O'Neill (Ryan Philippe) is "tasked" to work in Hanssen's office as his assistant, while surreptitiously reporting on his boss's "activities" (O'Neill has been told that Hanssen is under suspicion of engaging in "sexual perversion" while on the taxpayer's dime).

    The officious, guarded and inherently suspicious Hanssen is a tough nut to crack; when O'Neill introduces himself on his first day of work, Hanssen barks "Your name is Clerk, and my name is Sir" before slamming his office door shut. However, as O'Neill ingratiates himself into his boss's life, he is surprised to find him admirable in many ways; he appears to be a true patriot, a good Catholic, and a dedicated "family man". O'Neill can't seem to dig up any dirt on the increasingly puzzling "perversion" charges.

    When he confronts his "real" boss (Laura Linney) with his doubts, she lets the cat out of the bag and admits that he has been the victim of a ruse to ensure he could gain Hanssen's trust. Hanssen, she tells him, is actually under investigation for something more ominous; he is suspected of selling information to the Soviets, possibly over a period of 20-odd years. The degree of damage from this breach is so devastating, that "We (the intelligence community) might as well have all stayed home (all those years)."

    Some may find the film bereft of nail-biting suspense; but real-life espionage isn't always as intriguing as a Le Carre novel or exciting like a Bond film. When the credits roll, Hanssen remains a cipher; although we are shown enough to quash any agent 007 comparison(unbeknownst to his wife, he videotaped their lovemaking and got his jollies mailing copies to cronies-the very antithesis of suave and sophisticated, I'd wager). If Hanssen recalls any fictional invention, it would be a protagonist from a Graham Greene novel (typically a bitter, world-weary public servant, mulled in Catholic guilt).

    The film abounds with excellent performances; it's certainly the best work Philippe has done to date. Dennis Haysbert and Gary Cole lend good support, and Bruce Davison (as O'Neill's father) makes the most of a brief, poignant scene with Philippe.
    ...more info