Lies, truths, semi-truths, some more lies and the odd fib here and there; these are the ingredients of any good spy caper and are essential for keeping the interest levels high. The Recruit is a capable thriller for the most part.
Colin Farrell is James Clayton, a hot shot computer geek (there’s the first lie – an athletic, handsome IT geek) who notices a mysterious gentleman observing him. The man turns out to be Walter Burke (Al Pacino), a top level recruiter for the CIA and invites James to join the world of espionage.
The initial training for all recruits takes place with a CIA facility in Virginia nick named The Farm. Here at The Farm, James meets his fellow recruits and begins his training as a spy. Other members of his class include the attractive Layla (Bridget Moynahan) and Zack (Gabriel Macht).
The Farm’s trainers push the recruits in a series of gruelling tasks and trials designed to test not only them physically but also psychologically. All the while Burke observes the recruits, especially James, from the shadows.
During the gruelling training James discovers that Burke has more than a passing interest in him. Burke assigns him to an espionage task that is already dangerous enough, but is further complicated when James discovers who the target is. Further complications arise when James discovers that he might be the only one who doesn’t have all the facts.
The Recruit is, for the most part, a compelling thriller. The first half of the film is much stronger with the training aspects being the best bit. Towards the second half and especially the final reel, the film does fall rather flatly.
Colin Farrell is good as James Clayton and manages to come across as a very able guy facing many veils of deception. He is one actor who seems to go from strength to strength. The chemistry between him and Bridget Moynahan is good and helps to carry the film along at a good pace. Moynahan is very easy on the eye, but thankfully manages to do more than just be the token female. Al Pacino is good for the most part, but heads into his ranting style later in the film. Unfortunately it’s not as good as some of his other ‘rants’. Also he does spend the film looking uncannily like Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian movie super star (must be the hair and goatee beard).
The biggest problem with The Recruit is everyone keeps spewing out the fact that ‘Nothing is what it appears’. This coupled with the fact that the trailer shows much more that it should means that some twists are wasted and the ending becomes all too predictable.
Overall The Recruit is entertaining enough and is like a game of Russian Roulette, building up the suspense and tension, but when the final shot goes off, instead to blood and brains, we get a ‘pop’ and a flag with BANG written on it. Tension without the payoff, seems to be a common thread in movies now a days.
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