Film: 'Breach'; Cast: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Caroline Dhavernas, Gary Cole, Dennis Haysbert: Director: Billy Ray; Ratings: ***
Writer-turned-director Billy Ray has a fascination for non-fiction, real life stories. After skilfully depicting the true story of a journalist, who fell from grace when it was discovered he had fabricated over half of his articles, in his directorial debut 'Shattered Glass', Ray trains his camera on another true story in 'Breach'.
His second directorial venture is based on the true story of a senior FBI agent Robert Hanssen who was arrested for spying in February 2001. It is considered the greatest security breach in the US history.
Most of the story is set in a FBI office and involves two main characters - Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) and Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillipe). The USP of the film is the director's grip on the script and the main characters. Not even for a moment do you feel bored. As the story progresses, tension mounts too. 'Breach' is comparatively slow in speed and there aren't too many characters, but keeps the audience engrossed.
The story goes like this - Eric O'Neill, a computer specialist who aspires to be made an agent, is assigned to clerk for Hanssen, but his real job is to keep an eye on his boss and write down all his activities and pass it on to Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney.)
Initially, O'Neill's is not aware of the whole truth. He is told that the security agency is investigating Hanssen's sexual habits. Though Hanssen and Eric's first encounter is not so pleasant but within weeks, Hanssen warms to O'Neill, who grows to respect Hanssen.
However, O'Neill's wife hates Hanssen's bossiness and intrusiveness. As the day passes the tension in O'Neill's personal and professional life shoots up. How he manages to trap Hanssen leads to the climax of the film.
Playing real-life character is not an easy job but Chris Cooper's flawless performance makes it an interesting watch. He portrays Hanssen with such finesse that one starts seeing him as the real culprit. The film is also benefited from Ryan Phillipe's performance. Although Linney doesn't have a big role, she impresses.
When a well-known incident is adapted, it is not easy to hold the viewers' attention, but Ray's narration is certainly attention-grabbing. In short, worth a watch.