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Breach is a 2007 film telling the Real Life story of the capture of notorious FBI spy Robert Hanssen. The story is told from the POV of Eric O'Neill, a junior FBI agent who was assigned to be Hanssen's assistant as part of the investigation to bring Hanssen down. Ryan Phillippe stars as O'Neill with Chris Cooper as Robert Hanssen.


This Movie Contains Examples Of:

  • Bad People Have Bad Sex: When O'Neill's supervisor (played by Laura Linney) originally assigns him to the case she tells him it's because Hanssen is a pervert who harrasses his female subordinates, videotapes sex with his wife without her knowledge, and writes porn stories about her on the Internet. After The Reveal about Hanssen's treason she tells O'Neill that "The sex stuff is all true. Irrelevant, but true." Later O'Neill blunders into watching one of Hanssen's voyeur tapes.
  • Broken Pedestal: O'Neill comes to respect Hanssen, and is quite shocked to learn the truth.
  • But Now I Must Go: O'Neill leaves the FBI after Hanssen's arrest.
  • Detective Mole/Hired to Hunt Yourself: O'Neill's supervisor mentions that Hanssen was this. Hanssen also alludes to this in his Motive Rant at the end.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The movie opens with a press conference announcing Hanssen's arrest.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Hanssen. The reason, of course, being so the FBI can watch him while it makes its case.
  • The Mole: Hanssen. Arguably also O'Neill after he is inserted into Hanssen's office.
  • Motive Rant: A subdued one by Hanssen at the end.

 Can you imagine, sitting in a room with a bunch of your colleagues, everybody trying to guess the identity of a mole and all the while, it's you they're after, you they're looking for? That must be very satisfying, wouldn't you think?

  • Reading the Enemy's Mail: The FBI intercepts a letter from Hanssen to the Russians and realizes they are running out of time to make their case.
  • Sidelong Glance Biopic
  • Spiritual Successor: To Shattered Glass, director Billy Ray's previous film, which also focused on a protagonist with a dark secret and the investigation that exposes him.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: While he never says it outright, this seems to be Hanssen's attitude towards women. In one scene, he's irritated by a woman's mere presence (the fact that she's wearing a pantsuit doesn't help matters--"The world doesn't need any more Hilary Clintons"), and at the beginning of the film (before O'Neill learns the real reason he's been assigned to Hanssen), he's told that Hanssen has had harassment complaints filed against him by female subordinates. Truth in Television--in Real Life, Hanssen was a known sexist/misogynist and even went so far as to physically assault a young secretary who had the gall to disagree with him.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs:

 O'Neill: My name is Eric.

Hanssen: No, your name is Clerk. And my name is Sir, or Boss, if you can manage.

O'Neill: Yes, sir.

  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The real O'Neill was in fact assigned as Hanssen's clerk, but most of the rest of the film alters the course of events.
    • The real O'Neill knew from the beginning that it was a counterintelligence operation.
    • O'Neill actually took Hanssen's Palm to FBI techs to download the data, rather than do it himself.
    • The climactic scene where a drunk Hanssen takes O'Neill into the forest and starts shooting his weapon didn't actually happen.
    • The FBI didn't actually get the letter they read in the movie ("something has awoken the sleeping tiger) until after Hanssen's arrest.
    • However, other parts of the film were meticulously accurate. The park where Hanssen makes his last drop (and where he is arrested) was where the real Hanssen was arrested.
  • Wham! Line/The Reveal: "He's a traitor."
    • An in-universe Wham Line for O'Neill, anyway. The Foregone Conclusion opening makes it less so for the audience.
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