Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: Breach (2007)

Seeing Breach requires total shunning of its advertising material, all of which will lie to you and say this is not a character study and much closer to placing a rabbit trap over Satan's head. The reality, confirmed as much in Spycraft by Wallace & Melton, is that espionage is 90% boredom followed by 10% sheer, high-stakes terror. Failures are loud, successes are quiet.

Ray's writing style is a perfect fit for the material, in theory. Breach is more of an actor's playground than a top-down expose on Intelligence, with a poor imitation of a three-act structure. Ryan Phillippe, doomed to these types of plucky up-and-comer roles forever, stands toe-to-toe with Chris Cooper, everyone's favorite terrifying hard-lining traditionalist, while Laura Linney kills it in a relatively thankless role as a no-nonsense case handler. Scenes featuring these three are great in isolation, and filmed in competent, unassuming ways that deserve to be in a movie that does more than frustrate you.

Billy Ray is either trying harder or forced into indentured servitude for The Man, which in filmmaking terms means more moneyshots of DC and Virginia and in scriptwriting terms means more made up nonsense and more throwaway scenes. Not only does Ray feel the need to establish the characters instead of letting the actors do that for him, major set pieces are invented to fill an imaginary quota. The film's memorable sequences, a Palm Pilot download and a car ride, are sufficient caps if we are here to learn about "The Worst Spy in American History," especially if you excise the extraneous marital strife subplot. There is a preposterous climax involving a pistol in the woods at night that is meant to focus the theme to a singular point, and in case you forgot all about that Driver's Test conversation, Cooper spells his motivation out to you verbally a couple of scenes later. It's a shame, really... if you didn't try so hard to bribe me into loving the movie, I probably would have loved the movie.

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