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Breach
DVD disk
Jun 12, 2007 By: Mathew Plale
Breach order
Director:
Billy Ray

Actors:
Chris Cooper
Ryan Phillippe
Laura Linney

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When one of the most experienced agents in the FBI (Cooper) is linked to the Soviet as a mole, a young agent (Phillippe) is assigned by the Bureau to find out the details and bring him down.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Breach is a high-stakes chess game where the players guard each pawn like it was their queen. The two men in the game (if you dare call it that) are baby-faced would-be FBI agent Eric ONeill (Ryan Phillippe, who has proven himself over the past few years) and the stoic Soviet mole Robert Hanssen (early Oscar favorite Chris Cooper).

Billy Rays previous film, Shattered Glass (which made an actor of Anakin Skywalker), also dealt with exposing someone for being something they arent. By promoting his cinematic world from the New Republic magazine to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ray has more complex surroundings and characters.

Breach is a battle of wit, experience, and subtlety. Hanssen is too experienced of a psychological wizard to knowingly let ONeill grab an upper hand. Watch as Hanssen toys with his inferior, crowding him physically and mentally in the corridors of the Bureau, causing him to bump into filing cabinets. And similar to how Phillippe holds his own against the more seasoned Cooper, the rookie ONeill (assigned to the task by a cold Laura Linney) pushes his own limitations, making a habit of snooping about Hanssens Palm Pilot, desk drawers, and even his home computer when hes invited over following Sunday Mass.

These scenes, with the combination of rookie agent mistakes and seniority foresight, are some of the most well-constructed of Breach, a secret agent film that doesnt distract us with senseless car chases and fast-cutting, but rather apprehends us with its delicacy. Breach is likely to be dismissed as second-hand to last years CIA epic The Good Shepherd, a much less involving and focused film that lingered more on the dark corners in the alleyway than those in the mind.

But it is far better than Shepherd; its relentless in the suspense department (no doubt occasionally at the expense of realism) and appropriately funny, as in the clever riffs on current politics. Breach is a complete and layered story of two men in the same one-man boat. Billy Ray is a talent to keep an eye out for and we can only pray his latest effort gets the attention it deserves.
THE EXTRAS
Feature Commentary with writer/director Billy Ray and former FBI operative Eric ONeill: The addition of the real ONeill is a great touch to this deeply fascinating track, even if he doesnt talk as much as wed hope for. Still, Ray provides enough insight for a listen, even if you choose to skip around.

Deleted/Alternate Scenes (18:09): While the 8 Deleted Scenes were undoubtedly removed for time constraints, many add to the chemistry between the two leads, as well as additional humor. Those who liked Breach may have wished a few of these remained in the finished print. The Alternates work similarly, but were better left on the cutting room floor.

Breaching the Truth (10:52) is your standard Making of that covers all your basic needs, from casting to the dedication the cast/crew had to accuracy. Of course, theres consistent praise thrown to the stars, but all seem genuinely grateful to be apart of the film.

Anatomy of a Character (6:50): This bit focuses strictly on Robert Hanssen and includes cast interpretations of Coopers character. Worth a watch, but could have been included with Breaching the Truth.

The Mole (19:20) is a Dateline piece originally aired in March of 2001 and goes in-depth into the complexities of Robert Hanssen and his secret life. This piece (hosted by Chris Hansen) is informative enough that even folks who didnt enjoy the film may be intrigued.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Though it's still early, Breach is one of the best films of 2007. With pitch-perfect performances from the cast and delicate direction from Ray, Breach is an all-around winner. Combined with the film, the extras make this disc an easy purchase.
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