CIA Personality Test
What do you do when Al Pacino approaches you in a bar and says he is going to recruit you for the CIA? May sound a daft question but that is basically how "The Recruit" starts because Al Pacino walks into a bar and tells Colin Farrell he's recruiting him. Now you may say but they are playing characters and yes in "The Recruit" Pacino is Burke and Farrell is Clayton but what they bring to the movie is themselves rather than characters, the cool, controlling Pacino and the handsome and slightly dangerous Farrell. Yes there is also a story to go with this and one which is fairly entertaining but it is Pacino and Farrell who make the movie.
James Douglas Clayton (Colin Farrell - Minority Report) was top of his class at MIT and a wiz with computers which is why he came to the attention of Walter Burke (Al Pacino - S1m0ne) a CIA recruiter and trainer who plans to recruit him. After passing the first few stages James along with other successful candidates are taken to The Farm, a special training ground where they are put through a series of gruelling tests. But unbeknown to James, Burke selected him for a reason as after getting close with Layla (Bridget Moynahan) another recruit Burke informs him that Layla is a mole and it is his special mission to find out what she is up to, how and for who.
You can split "The Recruit" into two halves with the first half being about the CIA recruitment and training process whilst the second half is all about James getting up close and personal with Layla as he spies on her. Now I heard somewhere that first half of "The Recruit" is a fair representation of the CIA recruitment process, I wouldn't know as I've never been approached by Al Pacino in a bar. But the first half is entertaining as we watch the laid back Colin Farrell, I mean James work his way through various training exercises, learning that you can't trust anyone whilst also trying to seduce Layla. It is entertaining but all so obvious because it very much plays to the public perception of who Al Pacino and Colin Farrell are rather than delivering anything which is really eye grabbing.
Then there is the second half the "thriller" aspect as James has to trail Layla because Burke tells him she is a mole. Now whilst it relies less on Pacino and Farrell's persona it doesn't really replace it with anything great, it is just usual action thriller stuff as we watch James sneak around, then a moment of action and unsurprisingly he ends up in bed with Layla. And then there is the twist, a twist which to be honest you can spot a way off, in fact even before it even gets to the second half you can feel it coming. Thankfully it's not a terrible twist but again it just feels ordinary because it is a familiar twist.
So what that means and as I've already mentioned "The Recruit" is more about what Al Pacino and Colin Farrell bring to the movie rather than anything else. And both deliver entertaining performances, Pacino is cool and controlled whilst Farrell is handsome and amusingly laid back but again it all feels very familiar as if we have seen them both deliver the same thing in other movies. It's not that they are bad performances in fact the ending is good with Pacino grabbing your attention as he springs into life as we know he can.
What this all boils down to is that "The Recruit" isn't a bad thriller but it is one which really relies on Pacino and Farrell to deliver on the public's perception of them rather than delivering original characters.