Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm planning to go back to the movies this next week. In the meantime, I caught a movie from 2007 on cable this afternoon.

The film is entitled Breach and is based on a true story of the FBI investigation of one of their own. The performances in this one are of the heavy weight acting calibre, so are the stars.

Chris Cooper plays Robert Hanssen, an enigmatic man, though clearly troubled, with a wife played by Kathleen Quinlin and several grandchildren.

Ryan Phillippe plays the young man, Eric O'Neill (who hopes to become a FBI Agent) put in place as Robert Hanssen's clerk. He is to report to Agent Kate Burroughs (played by Laura Linney.) Her superior is in charge of the operation, Dean Plesau, (played by Dennis Haysbert).

The main cast is completed as follows: Caroline Dhavernas as Juliana O'Neill (Eric's wife.); Gary Cole as Special Agent Rick Garsey; and Bruce Davison as John O'Neill (Eric's father.)

Eric is initially told Hanssen is being investigated by the Bureau for being a "sexual deviant." (Shades of J. Edgar!) They have pornographic films he watches, and others he made with his wife. A devout Catholic, regular attendee at mass, he is a complicated man.

Eric becomes close to Hanssen, going to dinner at his home, and going to church together with their wives. He's supposed to do that in his role for the FBI. But it becomes clear he is conflicted as he gets to know the man.

Hanssen is suspicious of Eric and keeps testing him. But finally decides to trust him.

The film's pacing is taut, as the FBI keeps trying to get the goods on Hanssen only to have him do the unexpected and wriggle away.

With Eric's help, he is eventually caught. Eric pays a heavy price emotionally for the deed he did. Though the Bureau is grateful and he is assured of his appointment to agent, he does not accept. Instead he leaves the FBI.

There is a chilling scene at the end when Eric is leaving his former office with a box of his possessions and catches an elevator as the doors are closing.

Hanssen is in the elevator with Dean Plesau and an armed guard. Hanssen is cuffed behind his back. He looks at Eric with red-rimmed eyes and says "Pray for me" as the elevator closes.

As I wrote earlier, this was a real case. Hanssen is spending life in a maximum security Federal prison.  He is under solitary confinement twenty-three hours a day. They said in the film, Robert Hanssen was the most dangerous spy in the history of the U.S. He was active for decades. It is classified how many American agents were killed because he betrayed them. The film credits at the end stated 3 American agents were executed by the KGB.

This film is hard-hitting, one of those OMG-I-want-to-look-away-but-I-can't movies. I wanted to read email on my iPhone, but kept getting drawn back to the film...

If you like a good tight mystery that chills the viewer in its reality, check out Breach on the premium cable channels or rent the DVD/Blu-Ray.  It's worth it.

Chris Cooper is a phenomenal actor and gives an Oscar worthy performance in this one. Ryan Phillippe is no slouch either.

Check it out!

Until next time...