June 18, 2007
I served as a spy for CIA on three clandestine tours, and one of my headquarters tours was in counterintelligence, where I got to know just how un-seriously CIA takes that topic. The dirty little secret at CIA is that Ames was not the only traitor, a brand new career trainee gave up ten or so of our Soviet agents in place, all killed. In this movie, the damage that Hansen did is severely over-stated, and the facts of the matter are not as they should be, but I still give this a five star rating because the movies is absolutely top notch on the personality details.
This movie is much superior to The Good Shepard. The only other spy movies that really come close are those featuring Alec Guiness as George Smiley.
The reviewers that cannot understand motive will never understand spys and traitors. One line in this movie really grabbed me–in it, Hansen talks about how “the US can be likened to a powerfully built but retarded child.” Throughout the movie, Hansen is cast as a devout even obsessive Catholic who cannot get people inside the FBI to realize how vulnerable they are, and ultimately I would conclude from the movie that the motivation may have started as a desire to prove a point, then a slow burn into addiction–making fools of those that would not listen.
The movie misrepresents the clerk as counter-spy. The FBI actually caught Hansen by going through his trash and finding the one note that he failed to destroy. Still and all the individual depictions, from the hardened solitary female senior special agent with no one in her life, not even a cat, to various others, are excellent. Especially meaningful to me is the depiction of the loving wife that becomes suspicious and then unloving because she confuses her husband's loyalty to duty and secrecy with inattention and being scorned, and of course that is rarely the case. Spies need loving trusting wives.
This and “The Falcon and the Snowman” are first rate. Anything with Alec Guiness as George Smiley is first rate. For amusement I like the more recent James Bond films, the Smiths, and True Lies.
Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11–How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Deep Cover: The Inside Story of How DEA Infighting, Incompetence and Subterfuge Lost Us the Biggest Battle of the Drug War
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth'