Movie Review: The Recruit

Al Pacino has done better acting in the bathroom, and Colin Farrell's already proven he's more than just a pretty face. So what's the point of The Recuit? flmGEEk wonders if the filmmakers forgot what the objective of their mission was.

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 him. 

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
Moynahan) 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 rest in."

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.

flmGEEk

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