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Movie Review: Breach

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This is the story of one man who betrayed the U.S. and the agents in the FBI who are sworn to uphold the law. In February 2001, renowned FBI operative Robert Hanssen was found guilty of treason against the United States. Over a period of more than two decades, he systematically and deliberately sold key intelligence to the former Soviet Union. Chris Cooper stars as Hanssen, one of the most notorious spies in the history of the U.S. Ryan Phillippe stars as Eric O'Neill, the young agent-in-training handpicked by the FBI to help draw Hanssen from his cover.

A dream comes true when O'Neill is promoted out of his low-level surveillance job and into the headquarters of the FBI, with the goal of becoming a full fledged field agent. As soon as he settles in, O'Neill is confronted by Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney), a hardened career Special Agent in charge of O'Neill, and tells him that he is placed in this job as a mole to watch and report on Hanssen because he's the sole subject of a long-term top secret investigation — he is a suspected mole who has been selling information to the enemy (the Soviets).

Creating dramatic tension between Hanssen (Cooper) and O'Neill (Phillippe) had to be difficult in telling this true story for the director Billie Ray when the characters are still alive. But Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe pull off a great job with their characters. You can actually feel the strength in each scene.

Strangely enough, Chris Cooper's subtlety in this part really captures Hanssen's self-righteous and sexually perverted personality, and on the other hand, Ryan Phillippe seems to have fallen into a perfect role as the young, aggressive O'Neill trying to get his career started in the bureau.

The supporting cast includes Gary Cole as Rich Garces, Dennis Haysbert as Dan Plesac, Kathleen Quinlan as Bonnie Hanssen, Bruce Davison as John O'Neill, and Caroline Dhavernas as Juliana O'Neill, adding to a vigorously engaging cat and mouse drama. This is a very smart film.

Directed by: Billy Ray
Run time: 1 hr. 50 mins.
Release date: February 16, 2007
Genre: Drama, Thriller and Biopic
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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