The Recruit Review
Colin Farrell seems to be a name that will be popping up throughout film this year. Daredevil is just one film we will see this Irish lad in. Apart from The Recruit, Farrell will hit screens again in a few weeks with Joel Schumacher’s ‘Phone Booth’ acting alongside manic sniper Kiefer Sutherland. As well as Phone Booth, Farrell will appear in ‘SWAT’ with Samuel L Jackson, he will then yet again team up with Joel Schumacher for a third time for ‘Veronica Guerin’ and finally ending 2003 with an Irish film called ‘Intermission’. Farrell continues to climb the ladder of success after breaking into Hollywood from doing Tigerland. He had a major supporting role in Minority Report with Tom Cruise and it now seems that with every film he does at this moment he has a major Hollywood actor with him. So after trying to kill Ben Affleck in Daredevil, ‘The Recruit’ sees him team up with the legendary Al Pacino who wants him to work for the CIA.
The Recruit dives immediately into the story after its stylish opening credits. Farrell plays a computer wizard James Clayton who is approached at his job at a bar by Walter Burke (Pacino). Promptly Burke offers him a chance to be trained to work for the CIA. Clayton is reluctant at first but eventually takes Burke’s bait when he is seemingly promised information about his father who is MIA after a plane crash.
Clayton’s training starts with the basic exams, thoroughly watched by Burke and his fellow CIA agents, and is then suddenly put on a bus with a lot of other CIA hopefuls which drives off to ‘The Farm’. No, the CIA does not train agents to become farmers but use an abandon farm as the place for the major CIA training. This includes a lot of things from self-defence training, how to interrogate a suspect, and learn how to plant bugs inside a mock up house without being caught (which is one of the best scenes of the training part of the film). While learning to become a CIA agent at the same time he starts to get close with a fellow hopeful Layla (Bridget Moynahan) however this close and budding relationship becomes the obstacle in his training which results in him failing…. or has he?
Throughout this film one phrase is kept in the audience’s head. ‘Nothing is what it seems.” And this proves an excellent point as after failing his training, Clayton is called upon by Burke who gives him a mission to carry out since apparently he was the best out of anyone training at ‘The Farm’. Layla, now working with the CIA, has now changed from love object to possible double agent according to Burke’s information. He wants Clayton to find out if Layla is planning to sell a top secret research project by any means possible which includes sleeping with her since Burke has taken note of the two’s friendship.
What follows is a barrage of twists and turns in which Clayton soon discovers that everything is definitely not what it seems to the climax of the film. Keeping the tagline ‘Nothing is what it seems’ in mind it is quite hard to predict how things will end up as everything that happens in the film could be questioned but nearer the end things start becoming a lot clearer to the audience.
Thirteen Day’s director Roger Donaldson constructs an entertaining thriller here with an always-changing storyline. Though lacking at first, the tension of the film does move up a gear once Clayton begins his mission and this includes a fairly hectic car chase to liven the action pace a little. Though once you know who the real enemies are the tension does seem to fade at the end, it isn’t a really big surprise ending that hits you in the face it’s an ending that just solves all the suspicions and accusations throughout the film.
As for the two main actors, Farrell and Pacino work extremely well in their scenes together. Both of them seem to fight for the screen presence; Pacino has a presence that causes un-easement with Burke as his character tells the basic truths of working in the CIA and they are pretty scary some of them. Farrell on the other hand handles the lead role well as Clayton. The way in which he plays the charismatic Clayton in the training scenes is the real pull to the audience and you really want to see more of this character develop than sometimes enquire to what Al Pacino is up to. This continues on while Clayton does his mission, you become wounded up in Clayton’s suspicious world that you really forget Pacino sometimes until you see him back on screen. ‘The Recruit’ definitely shows the screen potential for Farrell in future films.
Overall, ‘The Recruit’ is a typical Hollywood thriller that should keep everyone entertained for two hours. It’s a thriller that should bring enjoyment to the audience with its storyline, which does work on most levels. Of course it’s not fairly original with the ‘everything is not what is seems’ tagline because it’s usually part of these secret agent films. Regardless of this, Farrell and Pacino have enough screen presence and good chemistry to build up the tension in the film in the second half. But it is Farrell who shows that he has what it takes to be the lead in the big budget films with his role. It builds upon his stealing of every scene he was in from ‘Daredevil’. All he has to do now is to continue prove it to us with ‘Phone Booth’ and ‘SWAT’.