4 stars out of 5
It amazes me when Hollywood manages to turn out a taught thriller about a subject we've all seen in the newspapers, in a situation where we all know how it turns out. In fact, the film begins with the announcement of Robert (Chris Cooper) Hanssen's arrest; almost the entire film is told in flashback from that point. The movie centers around Eric (Ryan Phillippe) O'Neill, the straight-arrow FBI agent wannabe who brings Hanssen down, but any time Cooper is on the screen, you can't take your eyes off of him. Intelligently, the film devotes about .001 percent of its running time to the question of why Hannsen, a devout and conservative Catholic and a political conservative to the Nth degree, sold out his country. In the end, as at least two characters literally say, "Why doesn't matter." Laura Linney does a good job as O'Neill's boss, but this film just makes me wonder, yet again, why every actress in Hollywood doesn't go postal; Cooper and O'Neill's characters are fleshed out, her's isn't.