"A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason from within."--Cicero, Ancient Roman Senator and Orator.
This film opens with John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney General, announcing that the United States completed an investigation to end a serious breach in security and arrested Robert Hanssen, a 25 year veteran of the FBI, for espionage. We thus know how this film ends.
Robert Hanssen, played by Chris Cooper, an FBI Top Soviet Analyst is being investigated for downloading pornographic material. Eric O'Neill, an FBI Agent, played by Ryan Phillippe, is assigned to discreetly observe Hanssen and get information on his computer activities. Hanssen is a devout Catholic, and Eric finds it hard to believe that he is a pervert. Eric comes to admire and respect Hanssen. He complains to his superior about being on "perversion detail," as he puts it. His superior, Kate Burroughs, played by Laura Linney, reveals the truth. Hanssen is a traitor.
Robert Hanssen has imparted vast amounts of military data and intelligence to the Russians. He has informed where the president and vice president will be taken in the event of a nuclear attack. He has compromised 50 human sources and brought about the death of three men who were executed by the KGB. He has compromised immeasurable assets. As Kate said, 'It is the worst breach in the history of U.S. intelligence." Moreover, Hanssen is a pervert, despite his devout Catholicism. He tapes his moments that he makes love to his wife and mails it to someone in Germany. Hanssen becomes suspicious that he is being investigated, and he sends a letter to Russia stating that he will no longer accommodate them. The FBI intercepts the letter. Eric, however, is convinced that Hanssen will make one more drop. And he was right.
On February 20, 2001, Robert Hanssen is arrested for treason.
Chris Cooper is outstanding as Robert Hanssen. Ryan Phillippe is also outstanding as Eric O'Neill. Laura Linney, an excellent and beautiful actor in every film she is in, is a cool, professional FBI Agent in this film. Gary Cole and Dennis Haysbert play FBI agents and they are excellent. The supporting cast is also excellent.