Posts Tagged ‘breach’


BREACH (2007)

June 25, 2007

Breach review
Breach screenshot

Tracy: Four Stars
Matt: Four Stars

Length: 110min


How one man betrayed the security of a nation.
Inspired by the true story of the greatest security breach in U.S. history

Review by Matt:

Breach is a spy drama/thriller. It’s well structured and well acted. It examines themes of trust, integrity, motivation and personal sacrifice in a thought-provoking way. The film is set against the intriguing background of America’s most serious information security breach. However, it’s focused on character, and develops its themes in a relatively slow paced and thoughtful way. There’s a perpetual buzz of tension that’s not quite nail-biting, but definitely uncomfortable. Anyone of reasonable firmness should be fine, but it was enough to cause Tracy to pace anxiously at the side of the room moaning that she couldn’t take the stress.

In Breach, Ryan Phillippe plays Eric O’Neil, a young FBI agent sent to work under another agent – the aging and experienced Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). Ostensibly working as Hanssen’s clerk, O’Neil is in fact tasked with covertly investigating Hanssen who is suspected of various offences of inappropriate behaviour. O’Neil learns there is actually much more to Hanssen’s character and his crimes then he knew – perhaps more than he even can know. Ultimately, O’Neil’s success depends on cementing the trust of the suspicious Hanssen. He works at it, and the two proceed into a complicated web of deceit and sacrifice.

The film eschews the usual action and shootouts of spy films, yet it generates considerable excitement. All of the tension results from the two men’s battle to understand one another. As the audience we are privy to the motivations and deceptions of O’Neil as he struggles to snare Hanssen. Our audience gaze is blocked when it comes to Hanssen though; he remains a mystery. We are never sure how much he knows, what he believes, or what are his own motivations. Ultimately, the sacrifices required by O’Neil to prove his integrity escalate to dangerous levels. And we’re pushed to the edge of our seats – or, for some, out of our seats and to the corner.

Breach is a compelling character piece. Its success rests with the very good acting of the two leads and the intriguing interactions of their characters. Questions about the complex and sometimes indiscernible nature of human actions are central to the film. The audience is left with plenty to ponder about the characters, about their integrity, and about the motives behind people’s behaviour. It’s a good one for debating with fellow viewers after the film is done – just as friends analyze and muse on the behaviour and motivations of other real life people.