“Breach” is an acting tour de force chronicling a piece of American history that most of us missed because we were distracted by front page headlines of the Tom/Nicole breakup. This movie comes out feet first, and kicking.


Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Caroline Dhavernas

Had “Breach” been released before the end of 2006, Chris Cooper would definitely have needed a tux for the Oscars.

Based on the true story of Robert Hanssen (Cooper), the FBI agent convicted of selling US secrets to the Russians, and his assistant Eric O’Niel (Ryan Phillipe) who helped to bring him down, “Breach” is part first-class performance-piece and part john Grisham-esque suspense movie (without the usual pretty boys that occupy the frames of the Grisham books cum movies).

Second time Director Billy Ray (“Shattered Glass”) wisely loosens the reigns on Cooper who is allowed to romp in all directions with this gloriously contradicted character who is at once moralistically self righteous, salacious, Machiavellian, maverick, and yet repentant and compassionate. Ryan Phillippe works an equally impressive counter to Cooper in conveying his conflicted position in the middle of it all. Notably, co-star Laura Linney steals her scenes as vengeful FBI agent Kate Burroughs, a woman who has sacrificed everything for a career that has been undermined single-handedly by Hanssen.

The script, penned by the director along with William Rotko and Adam Mazer, is smart and witty – if not downright funny at times. Yet the story will occasionally fall back on manipulative clichés which feel out of place in an otherwise expertly crafted work. The twisted script leaves the audience somewhat ashamed for feeling what they have been led to feel in the end. Veteran DP Tak Fujimoto also aids in the storytelling on a subliminal level with his artful use of colors and textures. At moments when he took the heat out of the palate, it was as if the temperature in the theater dropped by about 25 degrees.

“Breach” is an acting tour de force chronicling a piece of American history that most of us missed because we were distracted by front page headlines of the Tom/Nicole breakup. This movie comes out feet first, and kicking.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clare Bath