Starring: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Caroline Dhavernas, Gary Cole, Dennis Haysbert, Kathleen Quinlan, Bruce Davison
Directed by: Billy Ray
There are some movies that don’t do a lot to rouse passions either way (good or bad), making them difficult to write a review for of any depth. These are the hardest reviews to write, mostly because everything I want to say can mostly be contained in one sentence, so I usually avoid reviewing them altogether, except when they fall under my personal rule of reviewing every movie I see that was released during that year.
The solution I’ve brilliantly come up with is to simply write a shorter review for the movies that fill me with such ambivalence, which Breach certainly is. Basically, Breach is a movie I’d describe as being perfectly competent. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, it even excels in some areas, but for the most part, its a workmanlike thriller without a whole lot to offer. It’s a bit better than mediocre, but not quite on the level of a recommendation.
On the plus side, Chris Cooper excels in his standard gruff authoritarian role, this time portraying FBI Agent Robert Hanssen in the true life story about Hanssen’s capture for selling U.S. secrets to Soviet Union (and later Russia). Ryan Phillippe is decent as main character Eric O’Neill, the FBI Agent-in-training tasked to gather information on Hanssen, but falters when called upon to give the movie more weight.
To his credit, director Billy Ray avoids resorting to theatrics to deliver the procedural events that led to Hanssen’s arrest, effectively building tension with what was essentially a fact-finding investigation. However, that also leads to an overall antiseptic movie, suggesting that while Hanssen’s story might be historically significant, perhaps even interesting, it’s not exactly a cinematic tale, which is probably why the proceedings are unable to achieve anything better than decent competence.