Wednesday, February 21, 2007


First of all, I'm going to get the stuff out of the way that really has nothing to do with how good the movie is ... but it sure adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience. To wit, one of the all-time best places to watch a movie: at a movie theater in a casino. We were in Laughlin, NV this weekend and late one night I took in a movie by myself at the Riverside. And why is that a good place to watch a movie, you may ask? Well, with your nachos and Junior Mints, you can buy a tall frosty beer. Even the worst movie looks better when you are sipping 24 oz of lager. But with a very good movie, it makes it into the perfect experience. For example, with a movie like Breach.

Breach is in the vein of true spy thrillers like The Falcon and the Snowman, with Sean Penn and Timoty Hutton. It chronicles how FBI upstart Eric O'Neill helped to bring his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was ultimately convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union, to justice. I love spy stories, both fictional and otherwise. I've read many accounts of real operatives and this story rings true.

The cast is very good. Ryan Phillipe is suprisingly effective as the young FBI agent charged with investigating his superior. With movies like this and Crash, Phillipe has done a very good job of casting off the petulant teenager image that I had of him from movies like Cruel Intentions. Chris Cooper is even more effective, not suprisingly, as the convicted spy, Robert Hannsen. The role is a lot like the one he had in The Bourne Identity. Chris Cooper rarely has a bad performance. Laura Linney is also very good.

The movie does a good job of not just portraying Hannsen as a villain. It gives you glimpses into the possible motivations for his betrayel. Phillipe's character while coming to understand how much damage Hannsen had done, also begrudgingly respects him because of his maverick attitude.

It is very intelligent (not dumbed-down) and doesn't get caught up in intrigue that rarely happens in real espionage (car chases, gun battles). Real espionage is more about the details, the routine.

The colors and the cinematography are muted, evoking the drab, gray and white image that one would have of Washington D.C. government offices in the fall. Surely spies must spy on bright days too, but sunny 80 degree days don't quite fit how we imagine it.

Breach is well-crafted and well-paced, not running too long and successfully maintains your interest. I'd recommend it. Grade: B+


greatwhitebear said...

sounds good, it's on my to do list this weekend. wonder if I can sneak in a beer?

dbackdad said...

Exactly! I'm sure there are theaters in other places that have a liquor license, but I've never seen them except at casinos.

Sadie Lou said...

Ryan Phillipe is suprisingly effective as the young FBI agent charged with investigating his superior.I've been rooting for him ever since Crash. I want him to land better roles. He's worthy of them.
I want to see this film and even more so with your stamp of approval.
I'm glad you're back, I was starting to wonder...

james said...

I recommend it too. I really enjoyed it.