If there’s a better way to fill our limited time on this earth than watching mediocre crime thrillers I still haven’t found it.
In The Recruit Al Pacino reprises his role as a law enforcement official from about half of his filmography, this time going by the name of Walter Burke. He works for the CIA’s recruitment programme, where he spots potential in a young computer geek called James Clayton (Colin Farrell). As he singles Clayton out for a top secret operation tracking a double agent, things cease to be as they at one point seemed.
This is a film that at various points looks like it might have potential, but ultimately squanders it. Without a main villain or source of threat, the focus here is on the three main characters, the third being Clayton’s love interest and fellow recruit Layla (Bridget Moynahan). This could work in a cleverer film, but as its failed attempts at psychological intrigue leave a void where a decent bad guy could have gone. Also the laboured CIA flirting scenes are just wrong.
Where it really crumbles, however, is in the final act, when plot twists come so thick and fast it ends up eating itself, like a snake consuming its own tail. As the story turns upside down and inside out it becomes impossible to follow and stretches plausibility to breaking point. By the time it finishes you will have forgotten who was on which side and what anybody’s aims were. If it was a bit more subtle, and the characters more rounded, some of the ideas may have worked, but by constantly wriggling around trying to get comfy it ends up never really sitting well.
In terms of direction it’s not too bad, and Colin Farrell is good. Pacino gives the worst performance of his I’ve seen, but is still perfectly acceptable. It’s also much much better than other late Pacino howler 88 Minutes, but then again so is [insert something you consider to be bad].