Five Easy Pieces

August 15, 2007

Breach

Filed under: Movies — danletscher @ 8:47 pm

I watched Breach last night. This is the second film by director Billy Ray, the first being Shattered Glass. Both films are based on true stories and deliver suspense and intrigue at a smooth and pleasant pace. I saw Shattered Glass for three reasons: (1) excellent reviews (2) Peter Sarsgaard and (3) I had to find out if Hayden Christensen could do more than act like a petulant bitch-boy as Anakin Skywalker. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, moved by Christensen’s sad portrait of lifelong liar and infamous “New Republic” plagiarizer. Glass created a fictional world for his journalism and presented it to readers as fact. The film does a masterful job of tracking the downfall.

When Breach came out earlier this year, it was well-reviewed but lost in the doldrums of mid-winter blahs, a typically stale movie season. I really didn’t consider watching it until reading the review in Entertainment Weekly upon its DVD release. Billy Ray, Chris Cooper, Laura Linney and a story of tracking the downfall of the most notorious traitor in U.S. intelligence history = a good flick to roll along with at that aforementioned smooth and pleasant pace. Hell, I even tolerated Ryan Phillipe for an hour and forty-five minutes.

Phillipe plays the green FBI grunt (bucking for “agent” status) Eric O’Neill, assigned as the assistant to Robert Hanssen (Cooper). Hanssen is a lifelong intelligence guru, having made a career off the Cold War and monitoring the Russians for 20+ years. He’s 57, two months from retirement and is now back in Washington D.C. in a post that is basically a made-up job. He’s also a fanatical Catholic and a sexual deviant. Like bread and butter. O’Neill is recruited by Linney to work with Hanssen but also track him, monitor his calls, keep a detailed account of all activity. It doesn’t take long for O’Neill to call her bluff and ask just what the hell are they going after on this guy. The payoff = he has been turning highly classified intelligence over to the Russians for a long, long time.

Chris Cooper is watchable in any film he does. His roadmap face and heavy bags under his eyes give him the advantage over so many actors that can’t relay an emotion without speaking. He was outstanding in Adaptation, based on the….I’m not even going to try to describe the plot – just see it if you haven’t, it’s a great one. His delightful Oscar-winning turn as John Laroche showcased a side of Cooper the audience doesn’t see much, lighthearted and quite comedic. Other good ones to check out are The Bourne Identity, Lone Star and American Beauty.

I recommend Breach for Cooper’s work alone. Hanssen is a twisted scumbag of a man; but like O’Neill in the film, the viewer sees the vulnerability about him and almost sympathizes with his situation. Almost.

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