This slick, enjoyable spy flick may well be remembered as
the first star vehicle for the Irish actor Colin Farrell.
He plays James Clayton, an MIT grad whoís recruited into the
the C.I.A. by an especially charismatic instructor to follow
in his fatherís footsteps. Since appearing in Joel Schumacherís
Tigerland a few years ago, Farrell has been in high
demand. He did a solid job in last summerís Minority Report
and heís set for the role of Bullseye in the upcoming Daredevil.
In The Recruit Farrell is in almost every scene, and
he fills it up nicely. Hyped as not just another pretty face,
he gives another finely nuanced performance in this otherwise
by-the-numbers spook film. Darkly handsome, he has a brooding
manner and soulful eyes that dart around in a way that suggests
a lively mind.
Al Pacino gives us a familiar performance as cool-as-they-come
C.I.A. veteran and recruiter, Walter Burke. His slogan is
ďNothing is as it seems,Ē and he leads Farrell and the other
recruits through a series of tasks designed test their abilities
and endurance. Pacino makes for a particularly smug taskmaster,
when perhaps the character would have been better served by
a quieter performance and a bit more of an avuncular touch,
but Alís in his Devilís Advocate mode throughout the
entire movie. Heís an actor who became a star: Al Pacino plays
Al Pacino the way John Wayne played John Wayne, and
Cary Grant played Cary Grant. He hasnít really stretched
since Donnie Brasco and itís now hard to recognize
this as the same man gave those slow simmering performances
as Michael Corleone. Not that Alís not watchable any more.
He still has enough charisma to fill the screen, but itís
hard to imagine hiring this flamboyant gasbag he plays to
Director Roger Donaldson keeps things moving smoothly
enough, but thereís nothing that stands out. The training,
the snooping, the car chase, the overly cutesy ending, nothing
will really stay with you for more than a week. Heís helped
out by some sharp dialogue from the writers and Bridget
Moynahan sparkles as Farrellís love interest, another
recruit whom Burke pegs as a mole. The film evokes the great,
underappreciated thriller No Way Out, but never matches
that filmís intensity or powerfully woven paranoia.
All in all, The Recruit may be as generic as its title
and trailers suggest, but in this, the lean season for movies,
it provides enough talent and thrills to keep you awake.