In THE RECRUIT, Walter Burke (Al Pacino) is a CIA trainer who is a veteran
spook with a list of slogans that he drills into his operatives as he trains
them to deceive and to kill: "Rule number one -- Don't get caught,"
"Everything is a test," and most important of all, "Nothing is what it
seems." The latter thought for the day, which he repeats again and again,
is why the movie goes seriously wrong.
This thriller relies on its twists for most of its excitement, since
director Roger Donaldson (DANTE'S PEAK) lets the movie flag frequently. The
twists, however, couldn't be easier to guess if the theater had handed out
copies of the script beforehand. Since "nothing is what it seems" and since
the story relies almost exclusively on single twists rather than double
twists, all you need to do is negate everything you are told, and you'll
figure out every twist. If the butler had done it, THE RECRUIT would tell
us several times that he hadn't, in which case you could be absolutely
confident that he had.
The movie is almost saved by the strength of the acting, which, in addition
to Pacino, includes Colin Farrell as James Clayton and Bridget Moynahan, who
looks like Ashley Judd's younger sister, as Layla. James, the son of a
dead CIA agent, is Walter's new prot‚g‚, and Layla is a fellow spy trainee
who has an instant attraction to James. When they first lock eyes, it is
like mating laser beams.
Along the way, some of the dialog is cute. "Do I have to kill anyone?"
James asks Walter during the initial interview. "Would you like to?" Walter
replies with a devilish grin.
Every once in awhile the story attempts relevance by paying heed to real
members of the CIA, who, after all, may save us from the next big terrorist
attack. "Our failures are known," Walter tells his students. "Our
successes are not." Great sentiments, but they belong in another and better
THE RECRUIT runs 1:50. It is rated PG-13 for "violence, sexuality and
language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes