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2F2F DVD Contest
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Movie Review:
The Recruit
By Matt Singer

02.03.03


In the worst case of coming attraction spoilers since Cast Away, the trailer for The Recruit reveals all of the filmís plot points, including the final surprise twist. If you havenít seen much of the advertising, youíll probably enjoy The Recruitís clever story quirks and scenes of espionage tension. If youíre like me, then youíll be notching off the moments you know are going to happen one by one until the credits roll. Recruitment? Check. Talented newbie shows promise? Check? Graduation? Check. Undercover work? Check. Bad guy revealed as - ah ah ah! I still find value in a decent surprise, so if the film isnít already ruined for you, I wonít do it here.


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Rising Irish actor Colin Farrell plays James Clayton, a computer geek who, like Swordfishís Hugh Jackman before him, is really hunky and in terrific shape even though he spends thirty hours a day on his computer. He is recruited to join the CIA by Walter Burke, played by Al Pacino, looking slightly less haggard than his turn in Insomnia. Pacino, yelling or whispering his way through his scenes in a Louisiana-by-way-of-Brooklyn accent, has a great time in a role that he could have sleepwalked through (And does, on occasion). Farrell, who proved he could play a great smarmy villain opposite Tom Cruise in Minority Report, has the jaw of an action hero and that rare on-screen look that seems to appeal to men and women; men think heís cool, women think heís hot. He has the potential to be a very big star, though he has yet to headline a major movie by himself; weíll see how Phone Booth does if itís ever released.

James heads to ďThe Farm,Ē the CIAís training facility, and the sequences that follow are akin to what it would be like to watch James Bond become James Bond (As Farrell nods in a cute line of dialogue). He learns the techniques, the gadgets, and even romances a feisty female recruit named Layla (Bridget Moynahan). Of course, we knew he would since it was in the trailer, but these scenes have a nice rhythm to them.

Itís difficult to review this movie. I was drawn into Jamesí story and was impressed Farrellís performance (though his thick Irish accent peeks through a little more often than it has in previous roles). A few scenes are very well directed by Roger Donaldson, particularly one in which a post-coital James and Layla try to spy on each other without letting the other know about it. But nearly every moment of the film is predictable, either through that dastardly revealing trailer or the simple trappings of the genre; for example; nothing in any spy film given a close-up or an in depth explanation is anything less than crucial to the plot. The result is akin to watching the movie while following along in the script. This might be acceptable for an academic discussion of a film, it doesnít do much to someone trying to enjoy the twists and turns of a Hollywood thriller.

Trailers, at their best, should be enticing and vague. Though Iíve read many of the comics the film is about, I know far less about Daredevil than I did about The Recruit, since those previews introduce characters and tease some of the action but do not spoil which characters live, die, or have their allegiances tested. After seeing the trailer for Cast Away I could never bring myself to see the movie; why go if you already know whether or not he gets off the island? Though I suspect that was the case with The Recruit, I crossed my fingers and gave it a shot. Consider my negative review here aimed as much as the marketing team as the creators.

 

 
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