by Brad Nelson
I don’t know when my love affair with Chris Cooper started. It might have been his portrayal of July Johnson in the Lonesome Dove series. But I think it started with his portrayal of the stern father in the excellent (and relatively unknown) October Sky (a terrific and inspiring film for kids of all ages…just in case you’re looking for a family-friendly movie).
But what cemented that love for the general persona of Cooper (he indeed has some range as an actor, but he’s always Chris Cooper to me) was his performance as the FBI intelligence agent in Breach. This is one of the best spy movies of the last twenty years.
Although there is very little of the Mission Impossible-type gadgetry and gimmickry, it’s very interesting nonetheless. It features people, not machines. I love films with gadgets and gimmickry, especially the older James Bond films. But, again, such things work as a spice to the main story. But a diet of pure A-1 Sauce isn’t very appetizing. You need the meat and potatoes underneath or all that you’ll end up with is a heartless, cold, technology-based film such as Mission Impossible.
Breach is about the spies. It’s about the people and the personalities involved in this singular craft. And this particular movie is based on a true story, although that hardly matters because I very much doubt that much, if any, of the dialogue was exactly as spoken years ago. But maybe it was. You never know. But I don’t expect these “based on” movies to be true except in the very broad outline.
Breach is intelligent and almost completely devoid of idiocy and movie clichés. That, in my book, is no small achievement. It is smart, well acted, well paced, and just about well everythinged. I give this movie 3-3/4 Palm Pilots out of 5. In a plot-driven movie such as this, not much more can be said without giving something vital away.
Chris Cooper is fantastic in this, as is Ryan “can-I-buy-another-consonant” Phillippe, the young FBI spook who has been inserted into Cooper’s office because they’re looking for a leak. And both Phillippe and the screenwriters should be given special mention for giving us a young male character who isn’t the picture of politically correct wussdom, isn’t a total wuss, and isn’t spouting totally wuss lines. What a relief.
I’ve almost come to expect that any youthful “hero” type of character in a movie these days is going to be barely distinguishable from a junior high schooler as he smart-alecs his way through the world and gives off the general vibe of a sophomore. Not so with Ryan Phillippe and his role. For once, they show a plausible young man struggling in his career and one who doesn’t act like some farcical GQ character or Jackass (the movie) juvenile.
The only weak spot in the film is the rather soupy father/son scene that Eric has with his father. But I’m picking nits because this, of all the lines and scenes, is the only even slight imperfection as far as I’m concerned. So instead of damning with faint praise, I’m instead praising with faint criticism. That is all I could come up with. I think you’ll all enjoy this one. • (976 views)