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Breach

Year: 2007
Production Co: Double Agent Productions
Studio: Universal
Director: Billy Ray
Writer: Billy Ray
Cast: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillipe, Laura Linney, Gary Cole, Denis Haysbert, Kathleen Quinlan, Bruce Davison
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There's an inherent credibility in this movie in no small part thanks to the presence of powerhouse Chris Cooper and partly because of it being a true story, smartly marketed as the story of the biggest security breach from inside the US intelligence machine in its history.

The idea was excellent and all the elements were in place, but unfortunately I found it a little too didactic. It's about Robert Hanssen (Cooper), a staunchly religious, high level FBI agent the powers that be suspect of espionage. To sniff him out, they assign a low level go-getter (Phillipe) to work as his assistant as he reforms some unimportant computer network. His new underling actually works for the agent in charge of investigating Hanssen (Linney), and his orders are to keep an eye on his boss and catch him in the act.

It's an effective cat and mouse game as the young buck sidesteps the suspicions of the seemingly infallible older man, and that's where the movie's problem lies. I wasn't convinced when Hanssen took his young charge into his confidence as quickly as he did, and for a superspy with so much experience, it's hard to believe he was undone by an ambitious junior investigator.

In fact (admittedly forgetting it was a true story), I spent the whole film waiting for a big reveal with Hanssen dropping a bombshell to show he was two steps ahead of them all the whole time.

But no such bombshell came and the climax of Hanssen's capture - as history tells us - was low key and decidedly anti-Hollywood. The most the script could manage was a short treatise by Hanssen himself, running through the reasons they'll assume he did it, dismissing them all as unimportant, or at least not as important as the breach itself.

Well crafted and performed (especially with Linney in the background) but disappointing.

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