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The Recruit (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature commentary with director Roger Donaldson and actor Colin Farrell; Deleted scenes with optional commentary; Spy School; Inside The CIA Training Program.

HAVING exposed the inner machinations of both the White House (13 Days) and the Pentagon (No Way Out), director, Roger Donaldson, now turns his attentions to the CIA for a topical cat-and-mouse thriller that delivers its fair share of thrills, as well as two great performances.

The Recruit arrives at a time when a country’s first line of defence, intelligence, is more important than ever, and follows the progress of Colin Farrell’s rookie, James Clayton, as he is recruited and then trained as an Ops Officer by Al Pacino’s wily veteran, Walter Burke.

Rising quickly through the ranks, Clayton’s novice is then assigned the task of finding a mole within the organisation, forcing him into a tense psychological battle between his mentor and the woman he has just started a relationship with (played by Bridget Moynahan), while also wrestling with his inner demons over the unexplained disappearance of his father.

Despite being riddled with cliché, The Recruit is, for the most part, a supremely engaging thriller, containing plenty of twists and turns along the way to its all-too familiar finale.

It falls some way short of classic status, however, and is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is, despite offering viewers a fascinating and timely insight into the inner workings of the CIA.

Where the film really scores, however, is in its central pairing. For while Donaldson’s direction occasionally feels rather pedestrian, it is the double act of Pacino and Farrell which really keeps things lively.

Pacino has long been an actor who can make the most mundane material appear better than it is, and is once again on form as the inspirational instructor, but his chemistry with Farrell is particularly strong and serves to elevate the movie to something far better than it is.

Farrell, too, deserves credit, exuding charisma and seldom allowing himself to be outshone by his illustrious co-star. The two clearly possess a mutual appreciation for each other which is translated well on-screen.

For Farrell, this could herald his arrival on the Hollywood A-list - a place he has seemed destined to take since his big screen breakthrough in Joel Schumacher’s Tigerland.

His interplay with Moynahan’s love-interest and potential moll is also well-realised, and lends a darker edge to the sexual tension which surrounds the middle section of proceedings.

But then, it is only when things begin to unravel and motives become clear that they start to feel tired. Until that point, you’ll be having too much fun to notice.

 

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