WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Top-notch MIT graduate James Clayton (Farrell) is recruited by a decorated CIA trainer (Pacino) for entry into the Agency's secret training program at a facility called "The Farm". Following his grueling training, he's assigned a dangerous mission with the goal of weeding out a mole who's infiltrated the program as well.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This film reminded me a bit of SPY GAME, another movie in which a grizzled vet shows a young gun the ins and outs of the espionage game, but I quickly realized that aside from that, they were completely different. While most spy films concentrate on missions, THE RECRUIT takes a cool perspective by focusing a good half of the movie on the intense training that makes up the first step into the world of cloak and dagger. That alone is a score for the movie, but the best part of it is the way it grips you from beginning to end and doesn't really drop you at any time. It's basically non-stop tension and wholesale uncertainty all the way through and three cheers have to go out to director Roger Donaldson for establishing and keeping an entertaining pace going throughout, up until the surprising finale.
THE RECRUIT also stars two distinct generations of stars in Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. One is a legendary icon while the other is a young steed who seems like he's going to be around for a good little while. Both were great matches not only for their respective roles, but for each other as well. Playing the badass mentor is nothing new for Pacino, who's done similar "showing the ropes" style stuff in other movies (most notably, DONNIE BRASCO), but he does it so well and in such believable fashion that it seems to be fresh every time. Farrell, on the other hand, shows us why he's quickly becoming one of Hollywood's brightest stars by being able to go from brash to vulnerable at the drop of a hat. The stunning Bridget Moynahan joins them both as another of the CIA's potential recruits.
On the flip-side, THE RECRUIT will require some definite suspension of disbelief and does take a degree of artistic liberty in describing the basic training of the CIA recruits (their training methods aren't necessarily public knowledge though so you can't really fault anyone for that). If you can get past this, which is pretty natural for any movie to have anyway, then you'll be in for a really good time with this one. Some will also argue that the film tries too hard to take on too many twists and turns and eventually ends up being confusing more than anything else, but I was entertained enough to pay close attention and I can't say as I ever really lost track of what was going on. It's one of those films during which you won't check your clock and the decent run time of 115 minutes actually goes by much faster than that.
A bit low on juice, but still a few decent offerings to sneak a peek at. To begin with is a 15-minute documentary entitled "Spy School: Inside the CIA training program", in which retired CIA officer and current set advisor Chase Brandon offers insight into the actual training undergone by potential CIA operatives. It's very basic though and one shouldn't expect to find out how to tap the cute girl next door's shower stall by watching this, but for fans of the genre, it's pretty neat.
Next up are four deleted scenes available with optional commentary from Donaldson and Farrell. The scenes are pretty cool individually but, as Donaldson points out, they would have done more to slow the film down than to advance it and seeing as one of my favorite aspects of the movie was its swift pace, I found that they're now where they belong.
Lastly, a full length audio commentary by director Donaldson and star Farrell is tossed into the salad. Donaldson has made some pretty good films in his career (COCKTAIL, THIRTEEN DAYS) and Farrell, aside from being the man of the hour, is a pretty entertaining fellow in his own right. Combined, they make for a strong track with a good pace and frank, casual conversation about the film.
I had a blast watching this flick and the action would make me watch it again sometime. Fans of the genre will definitely gain by acquiring this disc while more casual fans will get a great night's worth of entertainment from a rental. Either way, you can be sure to have a couple of hours worth of fun with Al, Colin and the rest of the spooks..