Breach (2007) -

The Conspirators

Robert Hanssen: Chris Cooper
Eric O’Neill: Ryan Philippe
Kate Burroughs: Laura Linney

The Mastermind

Directed By: Billy Ray.
Written By: Adam Mazer and William Rotko.

Running Time: 110 Minutes.
Rated: PG-13 (for violence, sexual content and language).

See the movie trailer


“Do you know what destroyed the Soviet Union? We didn't. They were more determined… More devious. It was Godlessness. Atheism killed the Soviet Union.”

- Paraphrase of FBI Agent (Russian Spy) Robert Hansen to FBI Agent Eric O’Neill Rating: 3 UFOs

Matt DeReno Staff Writer

(July 25, 2007) – Breach is based on the true story of the one of America’s greatest intelligence breaches in history and the ensuing plot to catch the mole, Robert Hanssen, a top-level FBI bureaucrat who was secretly amassing information and selling it to the Soviets for cash and jewels for a long time. In fact, Hanssen continued to do so long after the Soviet collapse for a period of about 15 years before finally being caught in 2001.

Some have described his crimes as the greatest ever intelligence breach in U.S. history, compromising billions of dollars of assets, the names of double agents working for the U.S. inside Russia, not to mention secret “continuity plans” in the event of a nuclear strike against the U.S. Several of the double agents he revealed to the soviets were even executed.

So we know what happened. But, how could it happen and what type of person could betray his country like that? Would the profile match the crime? How could he cover it up for so long?

Robert Hanssen (Cooper) is portrayed as a complex, devout Catholic who is beyond reproach in every area of his public life. However, in secret, he is a sexual deviant and given to filming he and his wife in the sack together for other people’s amusement.

The one grudge that he apparently holds is that of under-appreciation by his country. He complains that the FBI is a “gun culture” and you have to be a “shooter” to advance within its ranks.

As the film opens we quickly learn the FBI is onto him.

They long suspected he is a mole, though the movie picks this up in midstream and does not tell how they came to suspect him. Nonetheless, the idea is to catch him red-handed selling secrets to the Soviets so as to threaten him with the death penalty for treason in the hope he would reveal all the intelligence he has compromised or perhaps the identities of the people he was dealing with in Russia.

To do so requires a spy of their own: Eric O’Neill (Philippe).

O’Neill is a youthful, new guy given the detail of eavesdropping on Hanssen’s every move by pretending to be his assistant. Ostensibly, his task is to observe him for signs of sexual deviance – like using his computer at work to beat it and stuff. However, he is in the dark as to what they really are looking for – catching him in the act of espionage. Eventually his supervisor (Linney) lets him in on the full scope of the case so he knows the real deal about Hanssen.

O’Neill is able to obtain his PDA and at this point Hanssen’s world begins to crumble. He suspects his car is bugged and other things. He wants to call off his drops to the Russians, which would foil the FBI’s attempts to nab him in the act of spying (even though they long suspected what he had done for years, they had no hard evidence).

Suspecting something is odd, Hansen is about to quit his role as a spy for the Russians. O’Neill, in an emotional encounter, plays psychological games with him claiming that he is not only paranoid but unimportant. This was the trigger that gets Hanssen to make his final drop. At this drop, he gets nailed.

The movie is excellently acted by both Ryan Philippe as Agent O’Neill and Chris Cooper as the complex Robert Hanssen. Laura Linney plays that all concerned female part she plays so well in almost every movie she appears in. She just has that great serious female concerned face and it comes in handy in Breach.

Breach is really a character study to some extent. What makes it great is how Cooper presented Hanssen’s character as complicated and nuanced. He made his bizarre world of contradictions seem to make sense. There was a side to Hanssen on some level that loved serving his country yet he wanted his country to suffer because his country didn't appreciate his brilliance.

That Cooper can convey this in his character is brilliant work on his part and he could well come down with an Oscar for it and deservedly so.

Philippe was serious and on the mark. The young Ex of celebrity Reese Witherspoon proves more than capable of handling a serious role. I was waiting for a reincarnation of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, but luckily never got it. A fine job on Philippe’s part.

Breach is not fun, but compelling.

It is somewhat slow paced but necessarily so. The moments of suspense were done well enough and were all about timing: would they get back from a meeting too fast before the FBI could disassemble his car and put it back together again (I am still confused why they had to rip the car to its bare axle to plant one bug and put it back together); Could O’Neill rearrange Hanssen’s desk before he got back to the office.

Breach is about a man and his love for his country that was so strong he had to hurt it by giving away its secrets. For that, he paid the ultimate price but was finally recognized by his country – unfortunately it was for treason.





The Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, is an improbable affair of aliens following us to Earth and spreading all over the place because of how they took a bad ride on a Space Shuttle. This is a great image to remember because this Sci-Fi flick is one long snore of a space shuttle wreck and it surely is an invasion, or assault might be a better word, on our sensibilities as film goers and fans of the Sci-Fi genre.

I am convinced it must be one of Nicole Kidman's worst flicks, and it doesn't help the cause of female lead heroes. As the rumor mongers purport, this film can't muster enough interest to carry an action-packed thriller extravaganza. This film will not end those rumors anytime soon and lends sad credence to bozos who think the lead should only go to the guy.

In fairness to Kidman, there is not much anyone one could have done with this film. The dialogue was as stilted as the zombie-like aliens the human race had become. For some bizarre reason, I was waiting for Daniel Craig to turn into James Bond and start killing a bunch of human-host aliens. That never happened.

So, what did happen?

Well, in the tradition of all the Body Snatcher flicks (this film is the last of the books by the author) since the original Invasion of The Body Snatcher in 1958, a race of aliens comes to Earth and begins to spread by taking over human hosts. We are given clues as to the extent of the problem as more and more people are telling their psychologist, Nicole Kidman, things such as “My husband just is not who he is.”

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time someone said that in this movie.

In a bizarre take, the movie puts forth the notion that today's version of the Body Snatchers could possibly serve as a panacea for our world problems. There is some gibberish incessantly pumped out of TVs about how all the cultures that traditionally hated each other are signing peace accords. There is some stupid part about the last soldier leaving Iraq and leaving peace in its wake. They even show a quick image of George Bush on TV. Is this to suggest he too is an alien? If so, where are the MIBs?

I am left wondering, what do these little background snippets suggest? That America is the reason there is turmoil in Iraq? That if we would simply pack up and let Al Qaeda run the show, well, then peace be on Earth. Good lord! This sort of convoluted insanity is weaved throughout this gawd-awful film with little thought and even less regard for the intelligence of the film goer.

By ridiculous extension of what might construe the movie's agenda, would we assume that wars and cultural differences are what make us human, and therefore to give those up would be to turn us into emotionless zombies? What social commentary to draw from the movie's stance is as hard to extract as squeezing a drop of water from a rock? There isn't any water in the rock and no sensible thought in this movie. We are left with a lame-ass attempt to make a point.

It gets worse.

The contagion is spread by alien-infected hosts puking on you. From here, it gets out of hand. The aliens mostly walk like zombie-like automatons that have nothing to do, but they can run after you when the plot requires a car chase. A more interesting take, in my opinion, would be aliens that try to woo you in some way.

For instance, instead of puking on you, maybe “Sally just ain't the same old Sally” because suddenly Sally is a hot seductress. Now that would be different, though such a plot could be hijacked easily for adult film purposes. That aside, it would be better than the spoon-fed contrite drivel we had to endure.

Perhaps, the most interesting and challenging aspect of the whole bomb can be found neatly summed up on the movie poster, which proclaims, “Trust No One. Do Not Show Emotion. Don't Fall Asleep.”

I was beginning to wonder if these dire proclamations were instructions on how to act in this film.

For the most part, there was nothing remotely interesting between Kidman and Craig. There was zero chemistry between Kidman and her child, who was one of the rare ones that was immune to being hosted by the aliens.

Another flaw is the lack of wonderment at all about how we were overwhelmed by the aliens. Great entertainment flicks such as Jurassic Park for one, convey a sense of scientific wonder at what is going on. They put the dinosaurs on center stage as merely a believable extension of what science knows today.

Here in The Invasion, we are simply given scientists who explain nothing about people. Nicole Kidman is a psychologist and even though she looks at people and perhaps knows certain things seem weird, it would be nice if she explained why, thus lending a little credibility to her character. It doesn't even take much either. I mean, Star Trek fans just need to hear Spock babble about something weird and lo and behold, credibility is bore.

To give Kidman's character a job as a psychologist and merely show her office as evidence is not enough to establish her as real.

Maybe humans don't display herd-like mentality or something like that. I don't know. I am reaching. At least I am thinking, something the producers of this flick didn't do.

They dropped the ball again when the chemist or whoever he was solved The Invasion by merely looking at one slide under a microscope all in a matter of five minutes. The last time I recall it took us a lot longer to cure Polio. Not sure for an alien virus that hijacks our bodies.

And lastly, the part on the movie poster about “Do Not Fall Asleep.” That was nearly an insurmountable instruction to follow – for those within the film or watching it.

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