James Clayton, Colin Farrell, whose father died mysteriously in Peru in 1990, is a computer whiz recruited to join the CIA by grizzled veteran Walter Burke, Al Pacino. Clayton goes through a rigorous training process at the CIA's 'farm', and is attracted to fellow trainee Layla, Bridget Moynahan. Nothing, he is warned, is what is seems and, in the spy game, everyone's a suspect. For most of its length, Roger Donaldson's well made but conventional film seems like part of a recruiting drive for the CIA. We're told that CIA people risk their lives for low pay and no public recognition because they know they're right, and everyone else is wrong. It sounds like the George W. Bush line that "you're with us or you're against us," and it's all very off-putting. There's an eventual twist which forces you to look at the film from a different perspective, but the twist is so ridiculous that all the realism Donaldson has carefully established is blown away. Pacino is excellent as the infuriating Burke, while a stubbled Farrell does his best to make his character interesting. The Recruit is a strange mixture of a film, neither very good nor very bad.Comments by Margaret PomeranzThe laboured message that echoes through this film is 'nothing is what it seems.' This tends to undermine everything presented, so that the surprises, and there are supposed to be a few of them, are signposted to the movie's detriment. The screenplay is fairly dull, even silly on occasions, it fails to give Colin Farrell much to work with, fortunately Pacino doesn't need very much, he works well with whatever he's got. Everything is laboured, the father-son pseudo relationship, the fact that you don't join the CIA for the money. Director Roger Donaldson is competent but the silliness of the screenplay works against any tension.
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