Breach - Breach of Integrity
| You’d think there’d be a great movie in the story of the capture of the “worst spy in American history.” Too bad director Billy Ray manages to suck every last bit of excitement, tension or believability from such a story.
Breach is based on true events. It follows a very typical Hollywood hero in his attempt to bring down the man who has been selling secrets to the Russians for decades. The arc of the film is pretty standard. He starts by grudgingly admiring the man he is working to bring down, but slow he chips away at his idol until he reveals a broken man. He even gets to retire at the end, having saved the world, choosing his family over the pursuit of glory. How apple pie?
Okay, Breach is a series of clichés but that’s not the worst part of the film. It’s just so downright boring. The film is filled with typical thriller moments yet it can’t even manage to pull them off right. The best example is one of those scenes where the villain is lured away from his office so that the young, plucky hero can steal his palm pilot and download its memory card. We know he only has a limited time and this usually works in films like this to exploit a great deal of tension. It’s almost like Breach doesn’t even try. The “villain” is so completely distracted that you never really worry he’s not going to make it back in time.
As if the film makers realized their mistake, at the last minute they pull out another clichéd trick. They have the plucky hero remember, just as the villain is about to come back, that he put one thing back in the wrong place. This scene is so fumbled that it had the potential to ruin a perfectly good movie but since it’s placed in this snorer it ends up being just another example of why this film is dumped in February.
Probably the biggest mistake is the casting of the lead. Ryan Phillippe is one of the most wooden pretty boy actors working out their today. Maybe the real reason behind his divorce is that his wife, Reese Witherspoon realised that she’s an Oscar winning actress and he’s a total incompetent. I think he maybe changes his facial expression once in the whole film. Otherwise he looks like he’s trying to remember his lines. Especially opposite a master like Chris Cooper, who is quietly superb despite the limitations of his material, it’s even more obvious. I hear Phillippe’s thinking of retiring and I hope that’s true.
Back to Cooper, his role oscillates between being a total creep to being a sad yet somewhat noble creature. It’s like the film makers couldn’t decide how to present him. We never get a sense of who he is or why. The film even tries to justify this by having the character talk about why the “why” doesn’t matter. Guess what, it does matter. Otherwise we just never get a glimpse into who this guy is. I guess the film makers were too lazy to get around to dealing with that.
Breach is dumped in February for a reason. While it’s not tortuous to watch, it’s certainly not worth your time either.