The Recruit

on January 31, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
Fast becoming one of Hollywood's most sought-after young talents, despite the fact that he has yet to carry a film on his own (his first test, "Phone Booth," was delayed due to the sniper shootings on the East Coast), Colin Farrell ("Hart's War," "Minority Report") has added Al Pacino to the list of A-listers opposite whom he has starred (Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise). And, as he has proven previously, he's up to the challenge.

Farrell stars in "The Recruit" as James Clayton, a recent MIT grad whose Spartacus software is the toast of Silicon Valley. An alternative to a lifetime of corporate culture presents itself, however, when Walter Burke (Pacino) shows up and convinces him to apply to the CIA by insinuating that his dad, now deceased, was a covert agent. At the agency's training ground, dubbed the Farm (once a title for the film), he meets fellow recruit Layla (Bridget Moynahan), and their sexual tension is quickly exploited to test their effectiveness as agents. Just when James has had enough and calls it quits, Burke confides in him that there's a mole at the Farm and convinces him to help flush the infiltrator out, manipulating the surrogate father-son relationship that has developed between them.

Farrell nearly perfectly portrays this role, capturing the intelligence, physicality, sex appeal and wit of the character, although once in awhile his native Irish accent does inadvertently slip in. Opposite him, Pacino chews the scenery in an unsubtle performance, per usual.

Director Roger Donaldson has applied the same attention to detail that he did to the political period piece "Thirteen Days," giving viewers a fascinating insider's view of the hallowed halls of the CIA, its interview process, its instructional facilities, its training techniques and its 007-esque gadgets. Against this backdrop, Donaldson and the film's screenwriters, Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer, have crafted a suspenseful story that repeatedly challenges the audience with the same advice that Burke gives to James: "Nothing is what it seems." Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh's desaturated blue hues and composer Klaus Badelt's subtle techno score also supplement the film's suspenseful moments. Starring Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan and Gabriel Macht. Directed by Roger Donaldson. Written by Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Grazer. Produced by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Jeff Apple. A Buena Vista release. Thriller. Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and language. Running time: 115 min

Tags: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht, Roger Donaldson, Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer, Mitch Grazer, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jeff Apple, Buena Vista, Thriller

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