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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.61%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 34.85%
Total Crap: 7.58%

6 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Recruit, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Same old stuff, but there are few cooler than Al Pacino all revved up."
3 stars

A movie sort of paints itself into a corner when characters repeatedly look directly at the camera and yell "None of this is real! It's all just a test!" All one need do then is take nothing else at face value, and the finale is pretty easy to figure out. Oh, and don't forget that oh-so-not-stunning double-reverse-mega-surprise twist. But most of what goes on in The Recruit is so darn silly that NO ending would shock you...unless it involved animal sex or something.

Al Pacino loves to rant. To strut. To parade back and forth across a set, bellowing his cadences and tossing his staccato spittle throughout the room. Not surprisingly, he gets ample opportunity to chew scenery in this one. (I suppose we should be grateful that Pacino hasn't gone the "DeNiro Comedy Route", though this beloved performer is fast becoming a parody of himself.)

Anyone familiar with La Femme Nikita and its less successful American remake Point of No Return can sing along with this plot as it unfurls, only this time we're in the slick world of the CIA. James Clayton (Colin Farrell) is a hotshot computer whiz "recruit"ed by Pacino's all-knowing Walter Burke.

The first 50 minutes of the film are made up of some rather entertaining (and only occasionally dull) CIA training sequences, but Act III kicks off with a silly twist and the movie seems to get caught in a blizzard of silly twists.

The draggiest bits involve a beautiful lady recruit whom Clayton butts heads with before inevitably falling for...but look out for those pesky twists, folks. On one hand, plot jolts can breathe life and excitement into a movie. But when a movie doles out incongruous diversions as if they were musical cues, it does a little something to the characters.

It turns them into cartoons, and moviegoers generally don't care what happens to cartoon characters.

Roger Donaldson is quietly one of the most consistent directors working today. He can capably handle political drama (13 Days), espionage thrillers (No Way Out), wonderfully cheesy sci-fi (Species), and unappreciated comedy (Cadillac Man). Most of what goes right in The Recruit can be attributed to Donaldson's confident hand and eye for slick (but not overly gaudy) visuals.

The jury may still be out on whether or not Colin Farrell is the next mega-watt superstar, but he acquits himself amicably well in a curiously underwritten lead role. Bridget Moynahan is a serviceable young actress, and I mean that in multiple ways. But neither performer can cast a shadow under the Eclipse de Pacino. In his quieter moments, he's as good as ever; in his more manic scenes, Pacino's just fun to watch. Even his bad moments are more entertaining than other actors' best.

Originally entitled "The Farm" (nickname of the CIA training facilities), this one's certainly not bound to smash any B.O. records or cause many flickering Sold Out signs, but it's diverting enough to allow one to overlook myriad familiarities and probably have a fairly good time. Probably not worthy of a multiplex cash-drop, this one's probably best as a DVD recruit.

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originally posted: 01/31/03 15:16:32
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User Comments

8/07/06 Tangelo Soosepot Collin is a cute monkey who acts his way from A to B 3 stars
8/07/06 R.W.Welch If you can't trust your friendly local CIA agent, who can you trust? C+ spy thriller. 3 stars
2/23/06 Frank Rountree the acting was believable, not bad 3 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams dull 1 stars
11/08/04 Steve Newman Surprised this had bad reviews - i really enjoyed it 4 stars
5/13/04 Dean Rapp It was ok, i like the bugs 4 stars
4/25/04 Carla i liked it a lot, the plot twists were awesome! 5 stars
3/17/04 luke good movie 5 stars
10/23/03 jessica brilliant!! 5 stars
9/02/03 Jinnvisible Has it started yet , Oh its finished already , oh I though it was a long trailer. 2 stars
8/06/03 keith langman to many plot twist to follow 3 stars
7/14/03 Bob Wee Great!!!! 5 stars
6/12/03 Jerra This is a very bad movie... The story lacks any intelligence what so ever.... 2 stars
5/31/03 bigbro its amazing how little they think we know about the CIA 2 stars
5/27/03 Jack Sommersby Smoothly directed but nonsensical plotting sinks it. 2 stars
5/23/03 .. great 5 stars
5/14/03 Natalie Stonecipher SLOW start, but 2nd half has some excitement. Pacino recovering from insomnia somewhat. 4 stars
3/20/03 Cameron Slick polished thriller is engaging until it takes one twist too many into the predictable. 4 stars
3/20/03 Boris Loved it. Typical spy stuff but good nonetheless. 5 stars
3/12/03 Greg Edmiston It was interesting, and enough to keep me attentive. No more, no less. 4 stars
3/10/03 George Jung How come FUCKING and ALL ASS aren't in the ratings? I'll say it: This movie SUCKS ALL ASS!! 1 stars
2/15/03 Chris I was hoping for more but I really enjoyed myself. 4 stars
2/06/03 Todd I wonder if Sid and I saw the same movie. typical spy crap 1 stars
2/04/03 ownerofdajoint pacino and moynihan are worth the time..... 3 stars
2/02/03 Bill Kilpatrick A manual on how to write a bad movie. 1 stars
2/02/03 will were it not for the ending, I would've said it was pretty decent 3 stars
2/02/03 Rob Decent concept, but in the end just kisses the ass of Geroge Bush 2 stars
2/01/03 dave not overly convincing of its plot-twist. a yawn and good to watch before going to bed tho' 3 stars
1/29/03 Sid Whiting Vintage Pacino, great story, brilliant directing. 5 stars
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  31-Jan-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005



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