Billy Ray’s previous film, Shattered Glass (which made an actor of Anakin Skywalker), also dealt with exposing someone for being something they aren’t. 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 O’Neill 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 O’Neill (assigned to the task by a cold Laura Linney) pushes his own limitations, making a habit of snooping about Hanssen’s Palm Pilot, desk drawers, and even his home computer when he’s 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 doesn’t 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 year’s 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; it’s 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.
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, there’s 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 Cooper’s 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 didn’t enjoy the film may be intrigued.