Breach (2007)

Breach is a Hollywood version of the Robert Hanssen story. It features Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper. It is directed by Billy Ray, who wrote the screenplay for Flightplan.

Hanssen was an FBI Agent that was considered the top analyst on Russian affairs during the Cold War. He was a model agent with 25 years of service, a devout Catholic, a father and grandfather, and had an interest in reforming the FBI into the digital age. While this was all true, he also was the worst spy in American history selling secrets of all kinds to those pesky Russians. This went on for quite some time as he identified double agents to the Soviets, and these men were quickly executed. For many years, he was always at least one step ahead of those pursuing the mole right in their midst.

Breach focuses on the final events that took Hanssen down. Ryan Phillippe plays Eric O'Neill, a youngster on counterterrorism eager to do whatever it takes to become an FBI agent. He gets way more than he bargains for when he is pressed into service as Hanssen’s clerk, and is charged with being a counterspy. Let’s just say that this activity is way above his pay grade! Hanssen cleverly gains his clerk’s confidence early on, and O'Neill isn’t even sure if his new boss is guilty of anything. As the film progresses, it becomes a clever game of cat and mouse as the spy and counterspy try to leapfrog each other as they maneuver for position, while maintaining their cover.

Breach is a first rate thriller. I found myself with an elevated heart rate at several points in the film! It was well acted, it moves along well, and has enough tension to cut it with a knife at several points. I highly recommend this film to those that like the thriller genre.

Overall Grade: A

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