The Recruit (2003)

Genres - Spy Film, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Unglamorized Spy Film  |   Release Date - Jan 31, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Todd Kristel

The Recruit is a reasonably entertaining popcorn movie that suffers from ill-conceived plot twists. The best part of the film is when Clayton (Colin Farrell) is being trained by Walter Burke (Al Pacino) at the "Farm" to become a CIA agent. It's unlikely that this is a totally accurate depiction of the training process, despite the CIA's cooperation with the making of this film, but it's entertaining to watch anyway. The scenes are somewhat predictable, but that problem gets worse as the film leaves the Farm. The movie offers some plot twists that seem too contrived and builds to a big surprise that isn't much of a surprise. However, it also offers a fairly interesting gunfight that benefits from a good choice of location, plus a couple of other scenes that hold up well. Colin Farell conveys the appropriate combination of broodiness and naïveté in his role, but the character is a bit too simple and obvious; the only real mystery about him is how he manages to maintain a perpetual five o'clock shadow throughout the film. Al Pacino lends some of his star magnetism to another one of his mentor roles; he arches his eyebrows, doles out epigrammatic wisdom with his coarse voice, and holds back on chewing too much scenery until the appropriate big moments. Unfortunately, his character is underdeveloped and his hammy big moments are poorly written. Bridget Moynahan is appropriately inscrutable as Layla, and none of the remaining supporting characters are developed much. Overall this isn't a great movie, but it's fun enough if you don't think about it.