Reviewed by: Stacey Dittman
|Featuring||Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Aaron Abrams|
|Producer||Scott Kroopf, Adam Merims, Scott Strauss|
“Inspired by the true story of the greatest security breach in U.S. history.”
“I never cared about making headlines. I wanted to make history.”
“Breach” is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), a top member of the FBI’s Soviet Analytical Unit, and a traitor, who sold thousands of highly classified documents to the Soviets over a period of years. A young surveillance whiz, Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe), is given an assignment by the FBI to gain Hanssen’s trust and ultimately draw him out of his cover.
O’Neill is not initially told the real reason for his assignment. He reports directly to agent Laura Linney (Kate Burroughs), who tells him that Hanssen is guilty of sexual misconduct towards female staff. Although the allegations of sexual misconduct turn out to be true, O’Neill quickly realizes that there is much more to this case.
Not surprisingly, Hanssen is a deeply suspicious man, and immediately informs O’Neill of the nature of their relationship: “Your name is clerk. My name is boss,” he tellls him.
In one of the movie’s opening scenes, Hanssen is shown praying his rosary at church, thus setting the stage for the deep contradiction between his professed faith (Hanssen tells O’Neill that “God expects you to live your faith at all times.”) and his treacherous secrets. However, as O’Neill spends more time with Hanssen, he is drawn to the older man’s attempts to reach out to him in spite of his deep-seated mistrust of everyone. Slowly, O’Neill begins to believe that Hanssen is misunderstood.
It is only when O’Neill challenges agent Linney on the nature of his assignment that he is told the truth and realizes what is at stake. After that, a psychological game between two spies unfolds, pitting the survival and instincts of one against the other.
Although the movie contains relatively little violence and sexual content when compared to other movies in its genre, there is some material that could be offensive or disturbing to some viewers. Agent Linney makes some crude remarks to O’Neill regarding Hanssen’s deviant sexual behavior. An attractive woman in the elevator becomes the topic of discussion for Hanssen and O’Neill with respect to marital fidelity and lusting in one’s heart. At one point, O’Neill briefly views a videotape that suggests the nature of Hanssen’s deviant behavior.
There are a couple of instances of violence, including a brief scene in which two KGB officers are shot in the back of their heads, and another in which a drunk Hanssen fires his gun at O’Neill.
In addition, O’Neill uses some profanity when he challenges Hanssen’s continual testing of his motives and loyalty.
Hanssen’s life, though extreme in his duplicity, is a reminder to us of how self-deceptive we can be. King David, who betrayed God, and those around him, with his secretive acts of infidelity and then murder, ultimately humbled himself and sought God’s forgiveness. Hanssen’s major stumbling block is a distorted ambition to “make history” which leads to a profound misuse of his considerable talents.
In spite of his devotion to prayer and church, Hanssen is unable to find fulfillment and peace. While keeping the outward appearance of purity and piety, he misses out on the inward work that God could do to make him a whole man, one with lasting meaning and purpose.
Those looking for a lot of action or gunfire typically associated with spy/thriller movies may be disappointed. Although it is not typical of its genre, this is a very well-acted, character-driven movie with wonderful performances by Cooper and Burroughs. With such a complex lead character, there is much to ponder here and should make for good discussion afterward.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.