January is the month that studios routinely dump their terrible films in hopes of making some money, and the strategy usually works. I generally do not buy into it. In fact, of all of the films released thus far in the new year, "The Recruit," released on January 31, is my first film of 2003. I picked pretty well.
Of the eight films released wide in January, all received horrid reviews, all except "The Recruit." Is that why I made my way to the theater? No. I hardly read reviews ahead of time, and "The Recruit" is no different. There are three reasons why I went to go see this one: 1) Colin Farrell, one of the hottest young stars of the new millennium, and for good reason, 2) Al Pacino, and 3) I just love spy thrillers. I was not disappointed in any of those categories.
Farrell, who can also be seen in two other films this spring ("Phone Booth" and "Daredevil"), stars as Clayton, a young computer expert who is recruited by Burke (Pacino) and put into a CIA training course. There, he endures the likes of torture and so forth to get to the point where he is ready for the real thing, but when he gets it, he isn't all too pleased. His mark is none other than his love interest (Bridget Moynahan, of "The Sum of All Fears"), who Burke says is stealing information out of the CIA mainframe and selling it to an unknown buyer. Clayton's mission is to find out who the person behind it all is, and stop her. Unfortunately, not everything is what it seems.
"The Recruit" runs the course of many spy thrillers, with a few twists and turns here and there, but never really gets as complicated as I would have liked it to be. Essentially, it is more of a character-driven story with a good plot, or a decent plot with very in-depth characters. All of the main characters are likeable, even the ones that turn out to be bad (if any are), and they are all written well. "The Recruit" is engaging from beginning to end, even though it is somewhat predictable.
My only complaint with "The Recruit" is that it really pulls no surprises on the audience. The twists in the film are either given away in the trailer or are quite obvious to most people upon watching the film. Another twist at the end would have made this film a little more worth-while, because it seems as though the otherwise good story and characters were wasted.
Nonetheless, the story is intriguing and captivating, even if the ending is a little lackluster, and the acting supports it as well. The chemistry between Farrell, who I will repeat is one of the best actors out there right now, and Moynahan is top notch. Their characters' love for each other seems very natural, and Moynahan is also very sexy in her own right. Furthermore, the teacher-student relationship between Farrell and Pacino is also well done; the dialogue is terrific. Pacino himself does his usual good job, although some of the speeches he gives are starting to become a little clichéd for him; of course, he still pulls the dialogue off so naturally.
"The Recruit" is an edgy and entertaining thriller with great acting from all of the main characters. The ending is a little weak, but the content of the film is excellent, and if this doesn't establish Colin Farrell as one of today's most powerful actors, I don't know what will. Well, maybe "Phone Booth"...
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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