Saturday, July 28, 2007


I am not a huge fan of docudramas that depict recent events. Too often they seem to cheapen or sensationalize beyond the point of what makes a good story. So when Breach made its way into theaters I did not pay much attention. The film portrayed the curious true story of FBI-agent-turned-superspy Robert Hanssen. I didn't follow that news item when it first broke in Spring 2001, and it didn't seem to be the kind of espionage tale that I enjoy. But my wife picked it up from the video store the other day, and having nothing better to do last night, I had a look at it.

I was instantly drawn in by this movie. Chris Cooper, who I have long admired, is brilliant as the intimidating, awkward, inscrutable, and razor-sharp Hanssen. By all accounts Cooper captures Hanssen perfectly, who was an arresting, horrifying, yet strangely sympathetic character. The DVD extras include the original Dateline piece on the case, which bear out these assessments of his portrayal. Some reviews have griped about the artistic license taken in the film, but the intensity of Cooper's performance and the strong supporting cast make this retelling well worth a rental. It is a gripping, tension-filled character study.

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