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A spy's story 'Breach' tells tale of Hanssen case

Eric O'Neill looks like such a fresh-faced kid that it's hard to imagine that five years ago he helped the FBI break open the case of the worst breach of intelligence in U.S. history.

Yet there's O'Neill, still a cherubic-looking boy-nextdoor, discussing his role in the arrest of Robert Hanssen as part of the DVD extras for "Breach" ($29.98, Universal, available Tuesday).

Hanssen was a veteran FBI operative, devout Christian and pillar of his community when he was convicted of selling American secrets to Moscow over a span of nearly 22 years. The story of how Hanssen was finally found out and arrested is in "Breach," an extremely wellcrafted movie with a standout performance by Oscarwinning actor Chris Cooper, who makes Hanssen a sympathetic and even likable man.

Ryan Phillippe also gives a strong performance as O'Neill, who was a young FBI employee with dreams of one day becoming an agent (he's since left the bureau to practice law) when he was assigned to work with Hanssen.

The DVD includes "Breach of Truth," a 10-minute making- of featuring interviews with writer-director Billy Ray and his cast. "Anatomy of a Character" is a featurette on Hanssen and what it took to bring him to life on screen. Also included is the 2001 "Dateline NBC" report, "The Mole," that aired only weeks after Hanssen's arrest. It's fascinating to hear the elaborate plans concocted by Hanssen as he gave away government secrets.

An audio commentary with O'Neill and Ray is especially interesting in that you'll learn how much of what you see on screen is true and what was added for the story. Ray is quite honest about the dissatisfaction by some FBI agents over the film's giving O'Neill such a large role in the story.

*Looking for a haunted house thriller? Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller and Kristen Stewart are caught in the middle of one in "The Messengers" ($28.95 DVD, $38.96, Bluray; Sony). The disc has a commentary with Stewart and seven featurettes including "Exploring Visual Effects," "Pang Vision" and "Constructing the Set." Coming Tuesday "An Unreasonable Man" (IFC), "Blood & Chocolate" (Sony ) , "Blue Murder Set 1" (Acorn Media), "Diagnosis Murder: The Second Season" (Par a - mount), "Ghost Rider" ( S o n y ) , "Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season Two" (Universal), "Jumpin' & Jivin' Volume 1" ( A corn M e d ia), "Primeval" (Buena Vista), "The Rat Patrol: Season 2" (MGM), "Tyle r Perry's Daddy's Little G irls" (Lionsgate), " Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete First Season" (Warner), "What's Happening Now! The Complete First Season" (Sony).

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DVD extra

DEADWOOD: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON: The "final" season of the David Milch Western arrives in a sixdisc collector's set. Bonus material includes four commentaries, photo galleries and the featurettes "Deadwood Matures" and "The Education of Swearengen and Bullock." ($99.98, HBO Video. Available Tuesday.)

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com

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