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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 April 2017
Although this fictional re-enactment of the ensnarement of Soviet and Russian spy Robert Hanssen recounts events which took place in 2001 the film palpably resonates with chilling contemporary relevance. There are echoes of John Le Carre and Grahame Green in this fascinating tale of a high ranking FBI agent betraying his country for over twenty years before finally being caught, and although the movie begins with a television clip concerning the real Hanssen’s arrest (so we know how it all ends) it is nevertheless a fascinating dramatisation of the investigation which brought him to justice and an intelligent exploration of Hanssen’s possible motives for committing treason. Chris Cooper gives a marvellously understated and truly mesmerising performance as the Russian mole who sold secrets to the Soviets for $1.4million in cash and diamonds, his craggy features and grumpy demeanour hiding a complex and unscrupulously enigmatic character, deeply religious (so it appears) but willing to sell his soul to the KGB for financial gain. Cooper superbly portrays the inner turmoil of a pathetic melancholic man, fully cognisant of his hypocrisy and sensitive to the constant possibility of being found out. The interactions between himself and his younger assistant (tasked to find evidence of the treason) are presented as tense, cat-and-mouse affairs full of paranoia and suspicion, where one unguarded phrase could be a lethal tell. Despite lacking action sequences the narrative is intense and absorbing as the chess pieces are gradually assembled and positioned for the final dénouement. Sound support is provided by Ryan Phillippe as the young FBI agent while Laura Linney’s performance as his hard-nosed handler is convincing. For me this was a film to admire rather than to fully engage with but I would certainly recommend at least one viewing of this cautionary tale.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 April 2015
Based on the true story of the FBI's most damaging double agent during the Cold War, Breach is a deceptively simple thriller. A detailed guide to the film's plot would make it sound like not very much happens during the film, and indeed you know who the double agent is from pretty early on - along with knowing that the FBI know. The story does not have the sort of twists an piece of fiction would require.

Yet for all that simplicity, and the absence of high-speed thrills, it is a tense film which keeps you watching thanks to the brilliance of the acting - especially Chris Cooper, the interplay of the characters and the use of sparse sets which get a twist of extra tension by the camera lingering over them. Even if the overall plot is straightforward, almost every scene has a form of tension that makes it a cut about the usual American espionage fare.

The DVD comes with some extras that are actually worth watching, including a news documentary on the real life case which the movie is based on, and a set of deleted scenes - a couple of which are quite brilliant - which come with a commentary that does a good job of explaining to the uninitiated why even brilliant scenes end up being axed in order to make the overall film work better.
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VINE VOICEon 17 August 2009
This is an excellent brooding, thriller,set in the world of the FBI, with the hunt after a mole,possibly the source of the greatest security breach in American history. Breach is based on this true story. We get a bit of newsreel at the start to show the capture and sentencing of Robert Hansen, who had been supplying the Russians with intelligence for 20 years. Chris Cooper captures the brooding intensity of this angry, embittered man, outwardly a Catholic family man with children, who believes he’s been overlooked and underappreciated in his long career of 22 years. Coming up to retirement, the agency has promoted him into a department, away from the chief intelligence sources, in a new division charged with evaluating security procedures around classified FBI intelligence. Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillipe) has been assigned to work with him in an adjoining office due to his computer savvy skills and because he’s a lapsed Catholic. Eric is looking to become an agent and is part of the ploy to draw the subject out of deep cover. They have a fair suspicion Hansen is the mole but as yet no hard evidence. The Russians have intimated there is a mole, but due to his use of aliases, they have no name. He’s never met the Russians; he just drops off top secret files in an opening under a bridge in a park, leaving white tape as a marker on a nearby lamp post to say he’s done the drop.

Hansen continually tests the young man, getting Eric to tell him about himself. O’Neill has been told Hansen is a sexual deviant and posts stuff on line; that he needs to be monitored. Laura Linney is Eric’s handler. Hansen is moved by Eric’s lapsed Catholicism, and feels he can make headway with renewing the young man’s faith. Hansen becomes like a father-mentor to him and he introduces him to his wife and he gets to know Eric’s wife. He asks them to join him and his wife in church and share meals together at home. Eric is asked to help get Hansen out of his office so he can download files from his Palmer. He is also asked to drive him to an important interview so the Feds can strip his car down and make a search. Ryan and his wife have arguments a lot due to this added pressure from Hansen and his wife. His wife is not Catholic and he is not at liberty to keep her briefed on his operation, he’s also often out late on the work he has to do with Hansen. He feels a kind of loyalty to the man, having residual feelings of guilt and betrayal, often asking Linney why he’s doing this, he can’t see Hansen with this bifocal vision. So as well as layers of respect and fondness, there are levels of fear and paranoia. He is led to question his role and vocation. The film concentrates on character rather than action, the interiors are dark. The two main actors are superb in their roles and act off each other. The film was meticulously shot in the areas where it occurred, using the real life O’Neill as a source. Hansen is complex, enigmatic, not driven by money but the thrill of the chase.
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on 24 March 2017
This is a very good spy thriller, even if you know
the ending...

No car chases, gun fights etc, but a sound down
to earth, and well acted movie...
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on 29 July 2017
A masterful telling of an amazing true episode in American Life.
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on 16 July 2017
Film ok a bit slow I thought but watchable
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on 27 April 2017
Very absorbing and chilling story.
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on 6 July 2017
Good film
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on 9 June 2017
Dvd OK story wasn't as good as I imagined.
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on 6 March 2017
An excellent spy thriller based on an actual FBI case. Chris Cooper is superb.
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