July 21, 2007 - "It's not about making headlines. It's about making history," says Robert Hanssen to Eric O'Neill in this 2007 fact-based thriller. Hanssen certainly made history as the worst (as in most damaging) spy ever in the FBI. O'Neill made history of his own as the man who helped to bring him down in 2001.

O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is a young member of the FBI, working in counterterrorism and working his way up to the rank of agent. Suddenly, he's reassigned to spy on long-time intelligence agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). O'Neill is told that Hanssen is under internal investigation for pornography or something. O'Neill tells lies and keeps notes.

On the surface, Hanssen seems like an upstanding patriot. He's a devout Catholic and a devoted family man. O'Neill tells his handler (Laura Linney) that there's nothing there. That's when she tells him that they suspect Hanssen has been spying for the Russians for years and they need to catch him in the act of passing along secrets. O'Neill goes back to work and Hanssen gets caught.

Overall review: **** A great cast and a good story build drama even though anyone familiar with recent history knows how it turns out. Cooper is appropriately creepy as the spy, and Phillippe is very good as a man who hopes serving his country doesn't cost him his marriage.

I recall the case, though I thought it came to light in the late 90s. I also recall reading about Hanssen's involvement with hookers and porn, though that element doesn't play a major part in the movie. Mostly, it focuses on the relationship between Hanssen and O'Neill and how, ultimately, Hanssen made his fatal error despite knowing they were on to him.