I had high hopes going into Breach, but I found these hopes dashed by lackluster dialogue, nonexistent character development and a sorry lack of suspense, surprising given that the movie, based on a true story, is about the largest security breach in American history.

FBI agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), indicted after 30 years in the agency for selling secrets to the Soviet Union, is an excellent character for a Hollywood movie. Full of contradictions and secrets, Hanssen was a strict Catholic and highly moral man on the surface. As the story unfolds, the dark side of Hanssen bleeds through, and the reality of his work leading to the death of at least three American agents is chilling.

Hanssen also lived a double life domestically, pretending to be a happily married family man but in fact living the life of a “sexual deviant” filming his wife during sex, unbeknownst to her, and broadcasting the footage on the Internet.

This is one of those strange cases where the filmmakers would have been better served with a documentary. The director, Billy Ray, and his fellow screenwriters – William Rotko and Adam Mazer – manage somehow to squelch most of the tension or drama that came built into the plot.

One of the main reasons for this lies in the odd decision to turn the film’s focus onto the life of Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe), the young agent chosen to spy on Hanssen. The writers go out of their way telling the audience what an idiot O’Neill is by showing him bumbling through operations.

Thankfully, Laura Linney as a senior agent and Cooper, excellent in their respective roles, manage to infuse some character into the wooden parts.

Grade: C

Breach is currently available.