Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on June 25th, 2007
You know it’s an odd feeling when you finish watching a film only to think that if you loved the film, audiences must have enjoyed it on the level you did too right? Well, it’s a sad note to see that a film like Breach massively underperformed at the box office this past winter as the film is smart, intelligent and reminds me of why films were created in the first place.
Breach is a 2007 film that deftly tells the story of the greatest security breach in the history of the United States. The breach …as due to a spy by the name of Robert Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the intelligence branch of the FBI. The film covers the final 2 months of an investigation into Hanssen brought forth due to papers provided by a Russian defector.
Ryan Phillipe plays Eric O’Neill, the clerk assigned to expose Hanssen by winning his trust through connections of familiarity. Chris Cooper masterfully plays Agent Hanssen, a career defining performance and possible Oscar nod. O’Neill is able to earn Hanssen’s trust in both routine and clever ways. The line: “You don’t matter that much.” is a telling example. Hanseen’s line about the United States being akin to a powerful but retarded individual is a great line, especially in our current political and international climate.
There’s something about films like Breach that cause me to enjoy them on the level I do. Perhaps it is because the story’s the films tell are typically true or are based on true stories, so they easily build they human connection. Or possibly because they always develop the type of characters that we simply cheer for when they succeed and become angry when they mess up. Spy thrillers always connect for me as they represent a part of my life that I’d love to be able to someday do. Imagine being a spy or imagine finding out your boss is a spy for your country?
Breach tends to run slow for the first 10 or so minutes, but once Eric finds out what exactly his job is, the film throws it into first gear, rarely stopping for a refuel or break. Completely ignored during its theatrical run, here’s hoping that this one finds a new audience on DVD, as I can’t think of a more deserving film of late that does.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Breach has the type of image that we’d come to expect from HD, especially when one considers that the film is brand new.
As I just mentioned, Breach is practically brand new having arrived in theaters just this previous January. This recent arrival helps the film’s transfer. Detail was good, but I expected a bit more. The film’s numerous darker sequences had a few instances where it was difficult to make out what was occurring. Items like grain or video noise are pretty much absent. Color usage was fine as well, but a majority of the film’s colors felt overly tinted to a point where it seemed like every scene carried a slight greenish tint. Not the biggest issue, but one that became noticeable after 10 minutes in. All in all, this is a solid effort from Universal, but not as impressive as their bigger titles.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack, Breach boasts quite the impressive audio experience.
Dialogue, which takes up about 90% of the film, was clear and never became unintelligible. Surround usage is kept to a minimum as a majority of the film’s soundstage is kept to the front channel due to the dialogue. Bass shows up here and there during the gun sequence, but is kept throughout the film. There really isn’t much else to mention here, but I will say that I enjoyed what this audio track offered, especially when you consider how much dialogue this film has.
- Deleted Scenes: There are 18 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, the best of which involves Hanssen instructing O’Neill on how to answer his office line. The scene is actually rather amusing and should have been left in this under 2 hour movie due to the further evidence it offers about Hanssen’s constant “testing” of others.
- ”The Mole”: The original Dateline episode about the capture of Hanseen is essential viewing in order for the viewer to further immerse themselves in this startling true-life story. Anatomy of a character: Robert Hanssen is brief and informative. I enjoyed how the director, Billy Ray, notes that Chris Cooper was on the short line of actors that could act a key way. In all, this movie is a great thriller that moves at a fast pace even given the film’s foregone conclusion.
- Audio Commentary with director Billy Ray and FBI operative Eric O’Neil: I don’t know what it is about these types of commentary tracks, but I always enjoy listening to this quite a lot. I suppose it’s because the participation of someone who was involved in the case adds a fine sense of realism to the commentary.
- Anatomy of a Character: This special focuses on how Chris Cooper trained and studied for his role as Hanssen. Of particular interest was how much Cooper read into the case, almost to the point where he became the Hanssen acting like he was during this time period.
- Breaching the Truth: This 11 minute feature focuses on how the story of Hanssen was brought to the big screen. This was interesting enough, but nothing was overly new here as a majority of the topics were dealt with already.
- U-Control: Another HD Exclusive here from the folks at Universal. Similar to other releases, we’re given a PIP or Picture-In-Picture. Considering I enjoyed the film, I found that this PIP was great. Even though most of the comments were already mentioned in the above audio commentary, it was still great to see the comments Ray and company had. This is well worth a watch for fans of the film.
HD DVD Exclusives
You know it’s a true shame when you see films like Breach only to find out that they underperformed at the box office. Breach has great acting and is an excellent retelling of a dark time in the USA’s security. Universal continues day and date with another quality HD release packing this one with fine video and audio and a few interesting features. This one comes highly recommended for fans of the films or even for fans of spy thrillers.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- The Mole
- Audio Commentary with director Billy Ray and FBI operative Eric O’Neil
- Anatomy of a Character
- Breaching the Truth