Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Movie Review

Meet Robert Hanssen, a walking contradiction.

He's deeply religious (Catholic, four kids) but trades nudie pics of his wife with his friend.

He's patriotic enough to work for the FBI, but his need for money drives him to sell secrets to the KGB.

He lectures another buddie on the evils of strip clubs. The next night he's got a prime table. Soon he's on vacation with his favorite stripper.

Hanssen is a spy for both sides. And he was a real person.

Masterfully played by William Hurt, this miniseries (I have no idea when it aired or on what channel, but it must have been wildly censored) captures the inner turmoil that must plague a double agent, particularly the oxymorons of the terribly complex Robert Hanssen. About two hours long, the film chronicles Hanssen's rise through the FBI, his betrayals to the Russians, and his ultimate comeuppance long after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The script by Norman Mailer (yes, Norman Mailer) masterfully weaves Hanssen's professional indescretions with his perverse homelife. When Hurt's Hanssen offers to slip Rohypnol to his wife (Mary-Louise Parker) so his best friend (David Strathairn) can father a child by her, well, you know you are truly in the twilight zone of humanity.

The film moves fairly slow, in keeping with the miniseries tradition, and it traces some 20 years in Hanssen's career. He falls in and out of contact with Russia, finds himself alternately a hero and a villain within the Bureau, and the FBI never seems to have a clue as to who's the mole. You know he'll get caught, and you know why he'll go down: He's too freakin' weird to get away with it forever. Highly recommended, especially for something that was made for TV.


Comments

Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 2002

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