Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 13th Log

2007, Billy Ray, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Breach opens with a press conference footage of John Ashcroft discussing the biggest security breach in United States history. This reminds us (and then film follows with a title card) that it is based on a true story and it reenacts the events leading up to Robert Hanssen’s conviction. The next moments of the film we see Hanssen praying and this becomes one of the films primary focuses. Hanssen’s religious beliefs are always at the center of the narrative, which is essentially a pretty standard genre film. Breach is at its best when leaving (as Hanssen’s character even says at one point in the film) “the why” out of it. Yet the religious aspects of the film seem to have answers for Hanssen’s actions as if his spiritual beliefs are the direct cause. He forms a bond with young FBI agent Eric O'Neill because they are both Catholic. Ultimately he trusts him and O'Neill understands that he can use it to get in with him, while at the same time O'Neill grows a compassion for him. Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe give strong performances and the direction is engaging from Billy Ray. This is Ray’s second feature following up the quietly subtle drama Shattered Glass. The strength of that film lied in the simplicity and Breach captures some of that. The problem here is that the screenplay is weighed down with motives instead of taking Hanssen’s own advice: “The 'why' doesn't mean a thing


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