"What if he's smarter than I am?" It's as much a statement of Hanssen's duplicity as it is about the smart casting. Phillippe was meant to be pitted against a towering presence like Cooper, much as O'Neill found himself out of his depth, embroiled in "the worst intelligence disaster in US history". Linney centers the imbalance, the ethical guide through the smokes and mirrors, and the rock of determination.
Billy Ray seems to have a penchant for casting bland young actors with seasoned knockouts. Philippe is awfully uninteresting here but Cooper is fantasticly creepy and dangerous. Really solid film if it weren't for Philippe.
**1/2 The Pakula aspirations are notable on several planes, and the torn, obliquely drawn and played duo of obsessively brave-and-loyal-in-the-abstract men at the center is incendiary. But too much false modesty in the aptly "cool"-lit but blandly framing and cutting style on the one hand, and on the other excessive conventional-pandering plot clutter indulged by the narrative, do much to dull matters.
A thriller based on a true story about espionage is a very interesting starting point. And indeed, Breach works neatly throughout the film and not least because of its great characters - especially Hanssen played by Chris Cooper - who btw is always great. But here comes "the but". The difference between a great and a very good film is this: do you want to see it again? With film at issue, I'm not sure.
I'm totally with Phil on this one as far as Breach goes, but still thought it was worth the time. Although in Shattered Glass (with a fantastically understated performance by Peter Sarsgaard), Hayden Christensen, who I normally think of as a pretty weak actor, was a good fit for his character. You didn't really have to believe him...