Picks and Pans Review: The Recruit
Kevin Costner became a huge star thanks in part to 1987's No Way Out, a glossy, sexy thriller set in and around Washington's espionage circles. Out's director, Roger Donaldson, tries to repeat the magic with the heavily hyped Farrell in The Recruit, an equally glossy, less sexy film with a similar setting and subject matter. It doesn't work, though it's not for lack of trying or celluloid oomph on Farrell's part. Recruit simply isn't clever enough; its plot twists can be glimpsed a spy satellite's length away.
"Nothing is what it seems," Central Intelligence Agency recruiter Walter Burke (Pacino) portentously warns several times, as if goosing the audience into paying attention. It's a lesson our hero, MIT computer whiz James Clayton (Farrell, see page 73), is slow to learn. At Burke's urging, Clayton signs up with the CIA and begins its training program. There are spies amid the spies, however, and an imperiled Clayton must figure out whom he can trust before it's too late.
Farrell, whose compact good looks and intense, moist-eyed gaze bespeak major movie star charisma, delivers his sturdiest performance since blazing to notice in 2000's Tigerland. A weary-looking Pacino takes another run at playing a seductive Mephistopheles, recycling his blustery turn from 1997's The Devil's Advocate. (PG-13)
BOTTOM LINE: Only a semi-successful recruiting job