Recruit . Touchstone
Pictures presents a film directed by Roger Donaldson.
Written by Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer.
Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for violence,
sexuality and language). Starring
Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht.
climax of The Recruit, the latest in a seemingly endless
string of Colin Farrell movies, has the villain inexplicably
detailing his entire plan to the protagonist - without any
logical reason to do so. In fact, the main reason he does
feel the need to blurt it all out would be a compelling reason
to keep his damn fool mouth shut.
kind of inept contrivance, mixed with the screenplay's multiple
predictable (not to mention ridiculous) plot twists, are just
enough to send this movie, which I was very much enjoying
up until the final forty-five minutes, into a tailspin from
which it never recovers.
Farrell is James Clayton, a top-notch MIT student who, while
at a software demonstration, is approached by Walter Burke
(Al Pacino), a CIA operative. Burke, impressed with Clayton's
intelligence and high test scores, offers Clayton a job with
the CIA. James is reluctant, but is convinced when Burke drops
some hints that he knows some interesting information about
James's father. At "The Farm" - the CIA training
center - James meets Layla (Bridget Moynahan), a fellow trainee,
and quickly falls for her. Eventually he is selected to be
a "narc" - an unofficial agent, whose existance
would not be verified by the CIA if caught. His first job
is to root out a double agent within The Farm.
the first hour or so, The Recruit is an enjoyable spy
thriller. The scenes at The Farm - although completely unrealistic,
I'm sure - are intriguing and very well done. After James's
recruitment as a narc, the movie is still going strong, as
James tries to find out any information about the double agent.
However, through this all, I knew how the movie would end..
In fact, I figured out the main "surprise" within
the first twenty minutes - and I suspect the majority of movie-goers
will too. As the movie progressed, I liked it enough to fervently
hope that the screenplay wouldn't go where I thought it would.
And then it did.
Farrell is effective as James, if not superlative. Farrell
is a good actor, but he has yet to be truly challenged by
a role, and he handles this performance very much like his
is Minority Report (which was very good - stealing
scenes from Tom Cruise is impressive indeed). Al Pacino, as
usual, is deliciously over-the-top, and his speech to The
Farm about why people join the CIA - "It's not the money
fame. It's because we believe." - is great to watch.
Bridget Moynahan is a fresh face and a capable performer.
action in The Recruit is largely gun-free, which is
a nice change of pace from the typical thriller. Until the
final thirty minutes, the characters are forced to use other
things than bullets to make an impact. In the context of the
movie, the characters are reasonably intelligent (except for
the villain at the end), although it is somewhat ponderous
that the number one student in his MIT class would be unable
to figure out what was really going on.
really wish I could recommend The Recruit. I really
do. But it's Agatha Christie-like contrivances (the blabber-mouth
villain), and ridiculous plot twists nearly ruin the experience.
The movie isn't bad - in fact, for a January release, it's
pretty good - and I don't think typical American audiences
will really mind the problems all that much, but Hollywood
screenwriters shoud take notes. With the increasing number
of plot twists in recent films, it has become much more easy
to guess what is really going on. Ironically, the best way
to surprise audiences any more is to play it straight, and
go with what makes sense. The Recruit is a perfect
example of why this is true. In trying too hard to surprise,
it strays away from what makes the first hour of the movie
as enjoyable as it is.
2003 Matt Noller