Based on the most notorious FBI infiltration of all time, "Breach" follows Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) as he tries to uncover the treasonous operations of agency veteran and devout Christian, Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper).
Big question: Can co-writer/director Billy Ray (the fraudulent-journalist flick, "Shattered Glass") score with another story of secrets and lies?
Skip it: For a movie about exposing a corrupt official, "Breach" is rather limited in detail, lacking information about Hanssen's procedure, motivations and detachment from the interest of his country. Of course, the film informs us that most of the information is still classified, so perhaps the filmmakers should have waited until they had more to work with.
Catch it: If you need some perspective about working nine-to-five. An FBI agent is "never off duty"!
Bottom line: Ray is obviously intrigued when words and mannerisms can be used to fool and manipulate, and Cooper excels in roles that allow him to push other people's buttons. Ultimately, "Breach" needs more about the breakdown of governmental service and the giddy temptation of deceit. It's only less boring than "The Good Shepherd" because it's not so intent on keeping a straight face the entire time.
Bonus: Chalk up one more vote for Obama; as Hanssen says, "The world doesn't need any more Hilary Clintons."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Billy Ray; screenplay by Adam Mazer, William Rotko and Ray; cinematography by Tak Fujimoto; edited by Jeffrey Ford; production design by Wynn Thomas; music by Mychael Danna; produced by Bobby Newmyer, Scott Strauss and Scott Kroopf. A Universal Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:50. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for language, sexual material and drug content)
Robert Hanssen - Chris Cooper
Eric O'Neill - Ryan Phillippe
Kate Burroughs - Laura Linney
Juliana O'Neill - Caroline Dhavernas
Rich Garces - Gary Cole
Dean Plesac - Dennis Haysbert
Bonnie Hanssen - Kathleen Quinlan