Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

Blog Notes Photos Links Archives About

The Recruit

Good plot twists you could see from a mile away.

Unfortunately, we had arrived at the theater too late to catch the start of the last showing of Gangs of New York, so we had to settle with the second choice. The Recruit didn’t get as much critical acclaim as Gangs, but what the heck, Al Pacino in a spy thriller? How could I lose?

The story is simple enough. Colin Farell plays James Clayton, a young man just out of MIT, recruited by CIA agent William Burke (Pacino). Clayton is obsessed with finding out what happened to his father, who was lost in an accident some fifteen or so years ago. Pacino taunts him by dropping the occasional hint about his father’s fate, and Clayton throws away the promising career he would have had in Engineering to join the CIA. The third entry to this little affair is Leila, Clayton’s batchmate at the Farm, a chick who may or may not be a double agent, but definitely has the hots for him. The three of them expectedly get involved a complicated plot involving double agents, unofficial operatives and the standard amount of secret agent sex.

The best parts of the movie involve the CIA training. We get a glimpse into the kind of psychological warfare business they teach the recruits at the training centre affectionately called “The Farm.” Here Al Pacino does what he does, drilling his principles into his students: “Trust no one."; “Nothing is what is seems.”, and “Everything is a test.”

The weakest part has to be the character of James Clayton himself. The character of Leila puts it best: Why the hell does James feel like doing anything he can to please Burke? James never has any real motivation for following Burke like he was the Messiah. Aside from that mysterious star on the CIA wall at Langley (which may or may not be related to his father), there is nothing stopping James from just calling it quits and heading home. Hell, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that training, secret agent or not.

Overall: Enjoyable enough, despite the predictability of the overall plot. Ending is a bit disappointing, but only a bit, as it leaves an important plot point hanging. I hope we see these characters again sometime…

See Also