Al Pacino has been at the top of his game for more than 30 years. Colin Farrell is the hottest young actor to break into Hollywood in a decade. To team up these two, in a spy caper no less, is Hollywood's dream. For the rest of us the dream was very real, because sleep seems to be the best option when sitting down for The Recruit.
It's a pretty convoluted story for a movie
that can't hold your interest. Farrell plays James Clayton, a computer
whiz kid with a mysterious deceased father. We know he's a computer
whiz kid because his room is messy, he wakes up late for a big meeting with
people from Dell Computers, and yet when he finally makes it to the meeting,
ragged, unshaven yet with incredibly well groomed hair, he makes his own face
come up on all the computer monitors in the building. Dell wants to buy
his little computer program (named ‘Spartacus' for reasons never quite
understandable) for a boatload of money. Farrell's smile is almost enough
to pull off the scene though, and its this engaging presence that director Roger
Donaldson (whose list of ‘credits' includes "Cocktail" and "Dante's Peak") tries
to ride for the length of the movie.
Pacino on the other hand is very
obviously here for the check. Gruff and standoffish, he is Walter Burke, a
CIA operative who specializes in recruiting. He explains that he is a
"scary good judge of talent," and since its Al Pacino, we tend to believe
James buys in, joins the CIA, and then there is a lot of
‘training exercises,' which is to say, a lot of time spent on glistening abs and
the development of James's relationship with Layla Moore (Bridgett
another recruit who is equally as good looking as James. They compete,
they flirt, they get it on and then they are split apart in what should have
been an incredible scene, but happens so quickly, with so little build up, that
you might miss it.
Of course the reason that scene is so fast is because
at this point we're nearly an hour into the movie and Donaldson and his writers
Roger Towne and Kurt Wimmer, have yet to actually start the story. Too
bad, because The Recruit doesn't truly fall apart until they do. Up until
this point in the movie it has been occasionally engaging, often cute, and at
the very least it has kept moving.
But then they tried to actually
tell a story, and boy did The Recruit become unwatchable then. She might
be a spy, he might be a CIA agent, Burke might be dirty, and you might
care. I doubt it. More likely you'll be able to spot every
‘twist.' You'll tire of the jargon, you'll be unimpressed by the
technology (to pass the time do like I did and try to name at least three
previous movies where each piece of gadgetry has been used before), and after a
while even the beautiful combo of Farrell and Moynahan get old.
There was ample opportunity to make a fun little movie here.
Certainly the cast has the chops, and the subject (the CIA, spies, double
agents, etc) has been mined before resulting in everything from brilliance (The
Conversation), to forgettably fun flicks (Enemy of the State). Here though
it seems everybody, actors, writers, directors, stopped trying after the first
hour. As if maybe they all sat down one day and said, "Well,by now the
theater managers aren't giving anybody their money back, let's just phone the
It's a shame, because trifle like this won't help Farrell to
keep his star rising, and Pacino can only sully what is an incredible
legacy. Ultimately, The Recruit won't hurt either (it is forgettable
enough that no one will remember how bad it was), but might hurt Hollywood as a
whole. Nobody complains about ticket prices when they see great movies,
but this one is refund worthy.
Movie Review: The Recruit
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