The Recruit (2003)

(In theaters, January 2003) Espionage and Al Pacino are similar in that they’re both endlessly fascinating, even in strictly routine situations. Here, Pacino plays another one of his brash mentor roles (this time to rising star Colin Farrell) in a film about the CIA training regimen. Sort of an espionage Harry Potter, if you prefer. The story is a bit too insistent on the idea that “nothing is what it seems”, because ultimately, that’s the idea behind the (easily guessable) Big Twist. Even then, though, The Recruit remains steadily entertaining. The training sequences are serviceable, and the plotline can hold anyone’s interest for a while even if the element of surprise isn’t there. This isn’t a terribly spectacular film, and it will probably be in the middle of the pack come year’s end, but it works well. Keep your eyes open for a few Kurt Vonnegut references, from Cat’s Cradle to (heh-heh!) Breakfast of Champions. Oh, and the “George Bush Center for Intelligence” quick gag. By the end, though, one ethical question still remains unresolved, maybe an indication of the film’s headlong rush to a serviceable conclusion.

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