Breach is a well paced spy thriller based on the true events of the Robert Hannsen spy case. The movie picks up early in 2001 as the FBI is ready to close their case. They merely need their smoking gun. To do this, the FBI constructs a facility full of surveillance, a fake promotion, and an office clerk whose only job is to record all of Hannsen’s activities. It’s the interplay between the clerk, Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillipe), and Hannsen (Chris Cooper) that drives the plot and is the focus of most of the dialogue. O’Neill begins his assignment and comes to admire his new boss. On the surface, Hannsen is a misunderstood genius and family man. O’Neill confronts his real FBI boss who then informs Eric that his real purpose is not to discover the sexual deviance of Hannsen, but to help obtain the smoking gun needed to arrest the worst spy in American history. O’Neill, understanding the gravity of his mission, takes to his charge refreshed.
The movie does a good job in keeping the audience in suspense despite the factual knowledge that Hannsen was arrested in late February 2001. The director moves the story at a good pace, allowing for full plot and character development. At first, you sympathize with Hannsen’s character. As the story peels back the layers to show him as the callous spy and deviant he is. The acting is nor remarkable, but does a good enough job to tell the story. Chris Cooper may have tapped into his role as the homophobic, homosexual, ex-marine, abusive father from American Beauty for his role as Robert Hannsen as I see little difference between the people and the way Cooper acted them out. There is mild language and some adult content, but it did receive my wife’s thumb up and I suggest it also as a good couple’s thriller.