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The Recruit

Starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell; Bridget Moynahan
Screenplay by Roger Towne and Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer
Directed by Roger Donaldson

IN SHORT: OK is just OK. [PG-13 for violence, sexuality and language. 105 minutes]

Our definition of a good dateflick is one in which at least on of the dating parties -- we're assuming male and female, your experience may vary – enjoys the flick and the other one can sit without distraction. The poor ones will bore the snot out of one party and the better ones will appeal to both. Two femme friends of ours sat for The Recruit and found it to be average and OK. We liked it much more than they, but weren't glued solid to the screen hard enough that we couldn't duck out and not miss something important. We know that's the truth because a) we did and b) all the important stuff is recapped in the inevitable (for the genre) confession and explanation by the bad guy in the final scene of the movie. Once you get there, don't walk out as parts of our audience did. There's still one final surprise to come answering any possible remaining questions for those of you that sit and try to play continuity cop.

James Douglas Clayton (Colin Farrell) impressed everyone at an M.I.T. technical exhibition with a computer program called Spartacus, allowing a computer with a wireless connection to broadcast a signal to any computer in the vicinity, whether linked (wired or wireless) or not. Think of it as a conquering worm. Such a brilliant piece of programming brings James to the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency, in the person of 27 year veteran/ teacher/ recruiter Walter Burke (Al Pacino) who brings young Mr. Clayton into the spook class of 2003. The hook is that the youngster would be following in his deceased father's footsteps. James doesn't know much about his dad, who died when he was ten and any information is as tempting as a worm is to a fish. He signs on the dotted line and heads to "The Farm," where the next generation of Bond wannabees are trained, one of whom is a very lovely classmate named Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan).

Burke emphasizes one thing to his students: "Nothing is what it seems." As training progresses and the story complicates itself by telling us that one of the above may be a double agent, The Recruit starts playing out like a cross between Survivor and The Mole, which isn't such a bad thing.

It could have been a greater thing. Given that "nothing is as what it seems" The Recruit, in failing to develop most of the other potential supporting characters, pretty much pulls the rug from under itself. You've got a hero. You've got a traitor. You've only got three main characters. Thud. What's even more disappointing, and we heard this again and again in conversations on the way out, Al Pacino has been playing "the same character" for far too long -- meaning long enough that even the fans are talking like critics.

Then again, the same old Pacino role is still worth more of your cash budget than almost any unknown. The Recruit isn't a bad movie, it just isn't full enough that we can rave.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Recruit, he would have paid . . .


The Recruit is a decent dateflick but will be a much better small screen event.

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