Directed by Billy Ray
Written by Billy Ray, Adam Mazer, and William Rotko
Chris Cooper as Ryan Hanssen
Ryan Phillippe as Eric O'Neill
Laura Linney as Kate Burroughs
Caroline Dharvernas as Juliana O'Neill
Gary Cole as Rich Garces
Dennis Haysbert as Dan Plesac
Kathleen Quinlan as Bonnie Hanssen
Bruce Davison as John O'Neill
110 Minutes(Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language. )
The movie God's must be smiling in the sky. Finally, the underrated Chris Cooper who did brilliant jobs in both "Adaptation," for which he won the Academy Award, and "American Beauty" has finally been given a headline in a Hollywood movie. Seeing the name Chris Cooper as the first billing of a movie is enough to drag me into the theatre, no matter what the film is. Even if he co-stars Ryan Phillippe. But "Breach" ends up being a suspenseful and intriguing spy film, and one that you don't want to stop watching. It also had one of the most chilling endings I've seen in a quite some time, and with only three little words Chris Cooper ends up proving once again what a fine talent he is. I am hoping deep down that "Breach" is a strong success, because maybe some more roles will open up for Cooper. The Oscar isn't enough to give him the boost that he deserves.
"Breach" has Cooper as Ryan Hanssen, who doesn't know that he is the center of an FBI investigation for years. Hanssen is an agent, but he is suspected of working for the other side, and may or may have not been giving the Russians military secrets and codes for years. Hanssen also doesn't know the secret of the promotion he just received, or the fact that his newest worker Eric O'Neill is undercover within the agency, answering to Kate Burroughs, and keeping a close watch on Hanssen. Hanssen is also known as being a sexual deviate, and records intercourse with his wife, and watches various videos with Catherine Zeta Jones in them. Eric has a problem though. A few of them, really. For one thing, he isn't allowed to tell his wife about Hanssen's true identity, but means that every now and then he has to lie to her about something-where he was all day, why he didn't pick up him pager, etc. The second problem is that he doesn't see anything wrong with Hanssen. Hanssen seems like a first class citizen too, on the outside. He goes to church everyday, and this is a different kind of church. In this church, the worshiper kneels down for the entire service, as a symbol for supreme worship. Hanssen's grandchildren love her, and he seems to love them. He has a beautiful home. "Faith, family, country-those are the only things that matter," he advises Eric. But the pieces are there-Hanssen may have a big and important drop off coming up, and Eric needs to give things to the FBI for more investigation-all under the watchful eye of Hanssen who has the memory of an elephant, and could tell if someone moves something in the slightest way.
"Breach" boasts two fine performances and one tolerable one. Cooper is excellent as usual, and Laura Linney does a nice job as the tightly wound FBI agent in charge of the investigation. And then there is Ryan Phillippe, aka The Former Mr. Reese Whitherspoon. Phillippe just isn't the type of guy that I would have in mind for this, or any, role. He overdoes it at times, and he is the only weak spot in the cast. I could tell this just from seeing his name on the poster-he hasn't exactly given a worthy performance in anything he's done, perhaps with the exception of "Crash." This is just good storytelling, even though sometimes the script does have situations that are a little unbelievable. And at times everything was almost too easy as well. There are times when Eric has to trick Hanssen into going places for a certain amount of time so that he could download important information off his computer. In one of those scenes, there isn't a proper amount of tension because Hanssen is away for so long. In another similar scene, Eric has to take Hanssen away from his car for a certain amount of time so that the FBI could encase wires all over it. Eric decides to ask if he could go for a tour of some building, but when they falls through it seems like there will be a tense moment with Eric and Hanssen going back while the other FBI agents try to fix Hanssen's car with time running out. But luckily for Eric, and not the viewer, the two of them get stuck in traffic, giving the FBI loads of time to make everything right again. There could have been a bit more tension, and in the end those situations just seem like a waste. All set-up and no payoff.
"Breach" is a spy movie, and the second spy movie in the last two months. Unlike last years "The Good Shepherd," this one has a little more action but not as much character development. The only real development that comes out of it is through the marriage of Eric and his wife Juliana, but the scenes of Eric's home life were somewhat painful to watch, with the overacting of Caroline Dharvernas(who plays his wife), as well as the eye rolling character of the poor woman who has to stay home alone. This worked well more with Eric and Hanssen's dialogues, and the creepy interrogation that Hanssen gives. I understand that everything that Hanssen does is just a line that was written down, but Cooper has that way of looking at the camera that makes it seem like it's looking at you, and you fear him almost. And he molds his character, which could have been just your average bad guy in a cop flick, into a sympathetic gentlemen, who you almost wish didn't turn his back on his country, because he's so damn believable as a nice guy. "Breach" is fine entertainment, and a decent spy flick. Hopefully it'll spread the name of Cooper as far as he deserves.