Breach DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

A great movie gets very good treatment on DVD.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A great movie gets very good treatment on DVD.
THE BAD
The packaging could have stood out more.
THE FEATURE
Breach is the true story of Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) and Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). O'Neill is an ambitious FBI agent who is asked to watch Robert Hanssen. He isn't told much more than that and after awhile finally presses his superiors to know why he is undercover against someone who looks like they are on the up and up. It is here that he finds out that Hanssen is a spy and has been selling secrets to the Russian government. What ensues is a tense, thriller that takes us inside the FBI and also shows us the relationship between Hanssen and O'Neill. While never warm and fuzzy these two do become friendly. There are a lot of cat and mouse games, cloak and dagger styled events and all of this mixes together to the point where we see Hanssen get taken down for his crimes against this country.
THE EXTRAS
Breaching the Truth

Taking us into the shoot of this movie we get to see the real Eric O'Neill as he hangs around on the set. The actors discuss their roles in the film and they also try and offer up explanations for their behavior. O'Neill then talks about how he pitched the script and Billy Ray discusses how he wanted to make Breach "a thriller from the inside out." After this the actors and director talk about working together and how they utilized Eric O'Neill to make the film as accurate as possible.

Deleted and Alternative Scenes

Anatomy of A Character

Billy Ray says that in casting the character of Robert Hanssen he liked Chris Cooper because when he thought about him, he was someone the director didn't want to think he was an idiot. After this there is a lot of conjecture as people try and break down who this man was and why he did what he did against America. The film makes it seem like he did it because he was disillusioned with this country. Cooper claims he did it because he wanted to keep up appearances and he was tired of not being listened to. Truthfully, I don't even think Hanssen himself fully knows why he did what he did.

"The Mole"

Commentary Track

Director Billy Ray and the real life Eric O'Neill sit back to discuss making this movie. Ray talks about how he wanted to evoke the mood of the 1970s and that's why he utilized audio the way he did. Truthfully, I mainly saw the mood he was talking about in the hard look of the film. Ray also points out what is and isn't computer generated in the film, while Eric O'Neill talked about meeting Robert Hanssen and trying to figure out just what the FBI wanted him to do. Other interesting tidbits are talked about, one of the more interesting being how Hanssen kneeled the entire time he was at mass. This is interesting to listen to, I just wish these guys would have provided more anecdotes and not as many technical specifics.
THE VIDEO
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. I loved the overcast look of this movie when I saw it in the theater and they have done a good job transporting that experience to this DVD. This transfer looked really good. I was expecting to see moments on the screen where parts of the image got a little too compressed but that never happened. Also, this movie takes place mainly in interiors. When they do take the film outside I really got a sense of the East Coast (I believed a lot of this movie was shot in Toronto). I would be interested in seeing how this film plays on HD-DVD.
THE AUDIO
Languages: English, French and Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles: English, Spanish and French. This movie is heavily dialogue laden. In fact, when I first saw it I thought that it reminded me of a play. Watching it here on DVD, I feel even more strongly about that assessment. I loved that Billy Ray just let this film play. He didn't overuse the soundtrack or try to get inside the characters heads too much. In many ways, this film felt like a bigger budgeted version of the Mission: Impossible TV series.
THE PACKAGE
The front of this dark green slipcase cover features shots of all the main cast members, and they even utilize a shot Ryan Phillippe as though this were an action movie. The back cover shows an almost animated looking image of Phillippe and Cooper walking into the forest, as well as some more shots from the film. There is a description of this movie, a Bonus Features listing, a cast list and system specs.
THE FINAL WORD
In reviewing this DVD I will admit that I was somewhat disheartened to see how eager Eric O'Neill was to sell his story to Hollywood. I know that it is certainly movie-worthy, and one can't blame him for wanting to cash in, I guess I just wish he was more about the work instead of Tinseltown. I remember when I interviewed Milton Bearden for The Good Shepherd and I was very impressed with how businesslike he was. To him it just seemed like the CIA was his job, he did it, and then he moved on. Having interviewed O'Neill, I can say that he seems like a really genuine person. I guess I am simply too used to how other have been and maybe I should just accept things how they are. I bring all this up because I really loved Breach and I am wondering if I maybe looked behind the curtain a little too much?

In all honesty, Breach is one of the best movies I have seen in 2007. It is filled with great acting, solid writing and the kind of situations that Hollywood is known for pulling off like no other. At 1 hour and 51 minutes, this is a movie that is well worth your time.

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Comments (1)

  1. Shelley

    I do not think this film received near enough attention. I believe some people purely did not want to spend the time to really watch and understand the movie. Well written and well acted - great movie. Nice review too.

    5 years agoby @shelleyFlag