HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Now Showing Today's Date:

The Recruit

It's not easy working for the CIA. They ship you to The Farm, an isolated place for training, and then put you through hell. You get no riches, no praise, and no glory. And if you fail, maybe you haven't really, because it's part of a great and terrible game of espionage where you might be more valuable for what you don't know than what you do.

But of course, we can neither confirm or deny if that's true.

In Roger Donaldson's The Recruit, Colin Farrell has the title role as computer whiz kid Jack Clayton, sucked into life with The Agency by instructor Walter Burke (Al Pacino). Clayton's father disappeared under mysterious circumstances years before, and Burke may know something about it. But whether or not Clayton's will to succeed comes from misplaced daddy issues, he's clearly got what it takes to be a master spy, or at least the Hollywood version of one.

As should be expected, training is harsh, Pacino is harsher, and everybody learns to be not what they seem. Because this is a movie, the subtle sparks of love start flying between Clayton and fellow recruit Layla (Bridget Moynahan), though both the audience and Clayton have to have some issues with how real that love is.

To explain much of the plot would be to ruin the twists and turns of Roger Towne and Kurt Wimmer's script. Suffice to say that some will find it predictable in its unpredictability, but there's still a nice edge to how off-balance circumstances push Clayton. Ten years ago, The Recruit might have surprised us, but now the plot complications have become routine.

The film also makes clear that it would utterly suck to live in the nearby Virginia town, because The Farm's mindgames keep spilling over into that landscape. There's no way that ordinary citizens don't get involved …unless they're in on it, too.

Because the characters are training to hide their true personalities, almost no one ends up having much of one. Most of the senior CIA trainers and agents are interchangeable, except, of course, for the outsized Pacino.

If anything, he has too much of a personality, and it's one we've seen from him before. Only the slipping soft southern accent gives us the sense that he's not exactly the same guy who coached Jamie Foxx to a Super Bowl victory, or taught Chris O'Donnell what it means to be a man. He even gets a few good ranting monologues in, on the outside chance Oscar voters might be watching.

Holding his own against Pacino is Farrell, possibly the luckiest actor so far of the 21st Century. He's had a pretty amazing career in less than two years. Clearly an actor with "it," Farrell has bounced from movie to movie making an impression in supporting roles, never quite breaking through.

But if the movies have failed, they've been chalked up to his co-stars. (Except for American Outlaws, which no one wants to even admit was on the board.) Always, he gets another chance, and in the next month, we'll see him in two more films.

Once again, Farrell burns with intensity, grabbing our attention with an energy that makes the material seem better than it is.

I'll admit I took my mother to this film and afterward, all she could say was "who was that young man? He was gorgeous." People may not remember his name yet, and The Recruit may not change that, but it's coming. Soon. After all, he's now got the retired women on his side.

Where the script holds our interest is in the scenes of CIA training and in a couple of good macguffins. Being a technical whiz, Clayton has created a program that can hijack computer network monitors, maybe not as cool as observers from Dell make it seem at the MIT job fair, but still a real world application of some scary note. And it's not the big one - no, the government has developed something called "Ice-9," just the sort of name the government would crib from Vonnegut to make them seem vaguely counterculture.

Capable of destroying a nation's computer networks from an electrical outlet, Ice-9 may or may not exist (that's up to you to decide, ultimately), but in either case, it's what everybody wants.

So pseudo-savvy does the script seem, that it's a shame it doesn't make provisions for the CIA to defend against USB ports. But oh, well. Better films have committed worse techno-crimes.

It's definitely a cut above a direct-to-video thriller, and for this time of year, The Recruit is fairly diverting. It holds more of a promise of better things to come from Colin Farrell than working well in and of itself. Or maybe that's just what they want you to think…

What's it worth? $5

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planet™
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites