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Published on June 15th, 2008 | by simeon


The Recruit

The secret world of espionage has become increasingly more prevalent in recent times, as national security is forced to depend further and further upon intelligence gathered by field operatives. Many people know the various agencies are there, but few know how agents are selected, trained, and utilized in the protection of a nation, and that the intelligence they gather often determines a nations course and actions.

In the new film “The Recruit” director Roger Donaldson takes the audiences inside the secret world of the CIA by showing the process of young agents recruitment and training. Veteran star Al Pacino plays Walter Burke, a top CIA operative who is charged with recruiting and training the best minds and bodies in America to become operatives. Burke has set his sights upon James Clayton (Colin Farrell), a top computer grad and orphan who after his fathers mysterious death years ago is looking for answers. Burke entices James to join by promising a life far more exciting than what the computer companies are offering him, and by his insistence that being a “scary judge of talent”, he knows a sure operative when he sees one.

Before long, James and his fellow recruits are in testing and those that pass find themselves on a secret location known as “The Farm” where they are to be trained into operatives. While in training, James meets a fellow recruit named Layla (Bridget Moynahan), and while there is a spark, there is also some tension between the two. The next part of the film revolves around various aspects of training and eventually leads to James being selected to root out a traitor in their midst. At first James does not know whom to believe but suddenly he like his fellow recruits is locked in a serious situation where the advice given in training that “nothing is as it seems” has never been more evident.

I will refrain from giving away more of the plot as while some areas are predictable; the story does have some nice twists and turns along the way. The chemistry between Farrell and Moynahan is good as is the solid work done by Pacino. There is a hardness about Pacino’s portrayal of Burke that is softened by some of the truths he lets slip as we learn that people close to him at times had to be sacrificed for the good of the nation, and that his is a lonely life of shadows and secrets.

My only real complaint with the film is that I found the ending to be to much Hollywood, and not enough in keeping with the story, things seemed to be tidied up at the films end, and I did not expect the line between good and bad to be drawn as sharply as it was, as a major part of the film dealt with the ambiguity that enshrouded many of the characters, and that some sub elements of the film were glossed over, or completely forgotten by the films end.

All in all not a bad film, it just left me wanting more.
3.5 stars out of 5

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