Sunday, July 01, 2007


2007, US, directed by Billy Ray

Like Billy Ray's previous film Shattered Glass, Breach takes deception and subterfuge as its themes, enlarging the canvas from the New Republic 
fabulist Stephen Glass to national security and the unmasking of Robert Hanssen, the FBI "super-spy." Although there are a number of conventional sequences that feature Hanssen returning to his office earlier than his superiors expect, threatening their attempts to unveil him, for the most part the film is less interested in generic thriller mechanics than in attempting to penetrate the aura of mystery surrounding Hanssen himself. He’s an unlikable, controlling character who, though perhaps brilliant in his day, seems superannuated here, unable to fathom that he’s being set up despite the dead-end job into which he has been shunted, which tends to undermine the film’s contention that he is one of the FBI’s brightest minds. Ray returns a little too insistently to Hanssen’s ultra-orthodox Catholicism as an easy cipher for his other disagreeable qualities; his religious hypocrisies are hardly surprising in the context of his broader betrayals. Still, there’s a degree of honesty about the realities of this kind of detective work – the long, boring, family-corrupting slog – that’s a useful alternative to the normal tales of G-man derring-do.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States