With Breach being based on reality it posed a bit of a problem for filmmakers, with a Hollywood audience saturated with the likes of James Bond and Jason Bourne, making a movie about the boring details of real life espionage would be a challenge.
Breach was going to have to be a character driven story, with some very capable actors. Chris Cooper in the role of Robert Hanssen is the driving force of the movie. It’s his motivations and his interaction with people that we really want to understand. Cooper does a masterful job of being the bad guy who doesn’t look like a bad guy.
Now to bring someone portrayed by Chris Cooper down, you’d need an equally powerful actor right? Wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Ryan Philippe, he’s actually grown on me as I’ve seen him in various recent movies, but at first he didn’t seem like a capable actor to go up against Cooper.
But that’s the beauty of it. Fresh out of the academy, the FBI decides to use a capable, but still very wet under the ears, agent to befriend and then betray Hanssen. Ryan Philippe is perfect for the role. His apparent shortcomings turn out to be his strength, Hanssen, a senior spook would never suspect a young upstart to be working him.
The conclusion of the movie is forgone, and the movie actually starts with the conclusion, so there’s no real surprise at the end. It’s the performances and storyline that drive Breach, and drive it they do. With out having to resort to over the top action sequences and special effects overload, Billy Ray keeps the movie pounding along as we get swept up in the emotional roller coaster ride that both of the main players experience.
Food for thought
We all want to have our lives count for something, we want to have meaning. Hanssen thought he was actually doing the world a favour by his actions, but in the end he only became infamous. How do we keep our lives in check to make sure our existence is meaning full to those around us and not just ourselves?
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains low level offensive language.
Duration: 110 mins.
Actors: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Kathleen Quinlan, Gary Cole, Caroline Dhavernas, Bruce Davison, Mary Jo Deschanel, Gary Cole.
Director: Billy Ray.
Release Date: 16 August 2007.