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“I spy with my little eye a pretty good movie”
_ Breach _

Though real life espionage is not as glamorous as a James Bond spy flick it is still just as intriguing when combined with solid writing and adaptation. Most government work is accomplished behind a closed door and rarely on an Alpine ski slope or speed boat in Greece. Therefore you have to develop a story with characters riveting enough to hold our attention. A change from the normal Hollywood onslaught of boobs and bullets. Mission accomplished. Billy Ray directs the new political drama “Breach” starring Chris Cooper, Laura Linney, and Ryan Phillippe in which yesterday’s headline becomes today’s blockbuster.

Breach exposes the two weeks leading up to the arrest of FBI mole, Agent Robert Philip Hanssen (Cooper). Hanssen had been spying for the Soviet Union and then for Russia since the mid 80’s trading his secrets for cash and diamonds. The FBI never had enough evidence to arrest Hanssen so they used one of their own to help bring him down. Eric O’Neill (Phillippe) is an FBI newbie with a desire for an Agent title. When assigned to the case he can’t understand what the FBI could possibly want with Hanssen, until the truth comes out. The FBI has been trying to nail this guy for years and it all rests on the shoulders of O’Neill. Makes me not hate my day job so much.

I respect the fact that even though this film is based on actual events and you know from the start how it ends; the writing and direction make for a twisty thrill ride from the opening credits until the snap of the cuffs. It’s decent story telling which is key. If you read the same facts in a CNN article you will be asleep before the second paragraph. But a clever story teller takes the same event and keeps you in the mix the entire time. Keep in mind that solid writing needs solid acting. Luckily all three leads deliver emotional, straight forward performances. Cooper is always brilliant and this time he blends hard nosed agent with moments of softness that make you second guess the truth of what you already know. We are a week away from handing out Oscars for 06 and I am already thinking of a possible 07 nod for Cooper.

Breach is Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language. None of which is gratuitous or vain repetition. This is elemental movie making in smooth form and all the pieces fit nicely together. There are no smoke and mirrors. Nothing fancy to draw you away from the story. There is confidence in the writing and they allow that to be the foundation for perfect acting performances. There have already been a run of bad films this year and Breach was a nice change of pace and hopefully will set the tone for the rest of this movie year. I spy with my little eye, 4 out of 5 stars. With a look at Breach, I’m Matt Mungle.

The Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(02/14/07)
“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

[Edited by Simon – Format]

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