The Recruit


Rating: PG-13

Al Pacino as Walter Burke
Colin Farrell as James Clayton
Bridget Moynahan as Layla
Gabriel Macht as Zack
Kenneth Mitchell as Alan
Brian Rhodes as Psychiatrist
Eugene Lipinski as Husky Man

Special Features:
“Spy School: Inside The CIA Training Program” – Never-Before-Seen Look Inside The CIA

Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary

Feature Commentary With Director Roger Donaldson And Colin Farrell

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.77:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
French Language Tracks
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 115 Minutes

James Clayton is a bright young computer programmer with a troubled past. His father died under mysterious circumstances in Peru and James has been obsessed with finding out more about it ever since. When Walter Burke, a CIA recruiter, starts wooing James to join them, he sees it as an opportunity to learn more about his father’s death.

James quickly rises as a star pupil. He excels above his other students in almost all areas. He also falls for classmate Layla Moore. However, the two quickly learn that the CIA is no place to start a romance. A world filled with torture, lies, and betrayal is no place to start a relationship. (Well, maybe it is in the real world, but that’s not the point.)

Well into training, Burke recruits James for a special job. There’s a mole in the organization and Burke wants him to help track the mole back to the source. The catch is that Burke believes Layla is the mole. James must put aside his feeling for her and fulfill his duties to his country. But, as rule #1 in the CIA states, nothing is what it seems.

“The Recruit” is rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and language.

The Movie:
“The Recruit” is a unique spy film in that it never leaves the United States. While most spy movies hop all over the world to exotic locations, this film stays primarily in Washington D.C. The film gets heavily into the training of the spies and all the extra baggage that comes with it (and I don’t mean the cool gadgets.) The psychological side of being a spy is explored more deeply than I think it has in many films. This is especially the case when Layla and James fall in love with each other.

The cast is first rate as you’d expect. Colin Farrell is one of my favorite actors and he continues to impress in this film. He’s believable as the young, cocky, and intelligent James Clayton. You totally buy Farrell’s performance. He stands up well against Al Pacino. Pacino is excellent as the burned out CIA veteran. He does a fine job manipulating Farrell’s character and playing mind games to keep him guessing. Bridget Moynahan is sexy and smart as Layla. She does a fine job, too, playing opposite these big name actors.

The film starts to get more interesting as it wraps up. I’d really love to see Farrell continue his rookie spy role in another film, and Moynahan would again make a great pairing with him. I think there’s more story to tell with these characters and their entry into the world of espionage.

There were two big problems with “The Recruit”, though. The first is that the trailer spoiled the entire film. The entire plot was laid out in the trailer. If you saw it, then there are no surprises in this movie for you. You’ve already seen all it has to offer. And even if you didn’t see the trailer, you may still find it very predictable. That’s the second big problem. Within the first 15 minutes I think you can have the good guys and bad guys spotted. From there on there’s nothing to figuring out how the movie will end. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to see Farrell and Pacino go through the motions of acting out their characters, but the predictability keeps the film from being a first class spy thriller. So if you can get over these two issues, you may find “The Recruit” to be some good weekend entertainment.

The Extras:
This DVD is fairly light on the extras:

“Spy School: Inside The CIA Training Program” – This featurette talks about the real life training school for the CIA. While they won’t confirm or deny that it exists, the CIA consultant they had for the film comes out and says that they do, in fact, have training schools. He talks about where the movie is factual and what is fictional. Real footage of the CIA training program is also shown. (Amusingly, they blur out the faces of everyone, including the people in the public CIA advertisements.) This is quite an interesting feature and it gives you some appreciation for what the operatives go through.

Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary – There are four deleted scenes on this DVD. The first shows James working at the bar and discreetly taking the car keys away from a drunk customer. A second scene shows James trying to makes amends with his rival in the spy school. A third shows a taxi driver giving James advice on how to get over nervousness. His wisdom consists of the phrase “Grab your balls”. The biggest deleted scene features the students acting out a mock diplomatic function. Pacino dresses as a general and mingles with the students at a function to see if they can get any information from him. It was the most interesting of the deleted scenes. You can also watch these with commentary from the director.

Feature Commentary With Director Roger Donaldson And Colin Farrell – This is a fairly laid back commentary with the director and Farrell (reverted back to his native Irish accent). They discuss the making of the movie, trivia on the side, funny things that happened during filming, etc. They seem to keep the discussion flowing and keep things interesting all the way through.

The Bottom Line:
This one is worth renting and the less you know about it going in, the better off you are.