ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  roger donaldson

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  105 minutes

RELEASED  -  31 january 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the recruit

the recruit - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the recruit at

buy the dvd from the recruit at

a brilliant young cia trainee is asked by his mentor to help find a mole in the agency.

a brilliant young cia trainee is asked by his mentor to help find a mole in the agency.


picture from the recruit

picture from the recruit

picture from the recruit


two out of four possible stars

The Recruit has all the elements of a thriller (good guys, bad guys, and the constant question of are they really who they seem to be?), but it presents those elements in an increasingly predictable fashion after a rather promising beginning. It's as if the screenwriter (or the editor, who usually has more control over story) decided to drop out of the game half-way through and let Predictability rear it's ugly head. Though the film is nowhere near as bad as January releases usually are (studios usually dump their worst in the dead of winter), Recruit doesn't always show the best face.

Story-wise, of course. Because the physical faces of the film could grace the covers of several fashion magazines with no problem. The real CIA operatives and employees must really get a kick out of how fashionable they are portrayed on screen, because the world of espionage always looks like a catwalk in the movies. But the beginning of the film, or even the first entire hour, rolls along at a good pace and can easily keep an audience interested. Why the editor/director/screenwriter, or whoever was responsible, allowed the film to resemble Run Lola Run during second half, whereas the first half was much more intellectual, is a question this author would like to ask the responsible party.

While the story doesn't always present its best face, most of the actors do their best and better for their characters and seem well cast in their roles. Star Colin Farrell might spend most of the film in desperate need of a razor, but his performance really holds the movie together. There are very few scenes that he does not appear in, so the audience will really get a good look at the actor's abilities in a variety of different emotional situations that his character faces. Farrell makes use of both his voice and his body to convey emotion and information and makes a very complete transformation into "brilliant CIA trainee," James Clayton.

But in light of Farrell's success on the screen, one has to ask, why has Gabriel Macht been pushed into second fiddle status yet again? This actor has had so many supporting roles (where he disappears, gets shot, or is relegated to "buddy to the star"), that he could likely be type-cast soon as a side kick for the rest of his natural career. Now while he certainly hasn't had the opportunity to headline a major motion picture yet, he seems overdue for a chance.

His co-star, Bridget Moynahan, herself a relative newcomer in the feature film game, presents a good face on screen as well, though her though her acting ability is not on par with someone like, for example Al Pacino. While she is improving slowly with each role she plays, it seems necessary to mention that Moynahan has a habit of acting entirely with her mouth (or her voice, really), and forgetting to use any facial features while speaking. Although she smiles a few times in this film, she's far too stone-faced for many of the scenes. Even when she's in a scene that includes guns and violence, her performance suffers because she doesn't seem to be able to give herself completely to her character. She's holding something back.

But resident nutcase, Al Pacino doesn't hold anything back. He regularly pumps his characters full of loud mouthed speeches and temper tantrums and this movie is no exception. As one of the most venerated actors in Hollywood, Pacino probably has license to act with his own peculiar style. Though it's easy to see that the main star of this film is not Pacino. Regardless of the myriad rumors circulating Hollywood about his wild ways, this picture belongs to Colin Farrell and his performance is one of the best reasons to recommend this picture. If viewers stay long enough to see the picture through to its conclusion, it's Farrell's performance that will impress the audience, not the story.

While a "thriller," by definition, should be thrilling, The Recruit is such only in fits and starts. The beginning of the film is so much better than the second half that the movie could warrant two separate ratings. The first half could easily get a three, while the second half falls off into direct to video espionage territory that's been covered many times before. The movie descends into predictability, and in a thriller, that is the worst route for a screenplay to take. Even a few well placed last-scene twists cannot save the picture. Added together, this film's two halves equal an average movie. A film which fans of the genre might find entertaining, and fans of the actors will find worthwhile as well.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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