The Recruit (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Nothing is as it seems.

Trust nobody.



Those two mantras give you all the information you need to know about this espionage thriller which is centered around CIA recruitment and training. Al Pacino is the CIA recruiter/instructor, Colin Farrell is the recruit/trainee. It's a pretty standard thriller with some very good moments during the depiction of the training process. Those scenes are made even more interesting by our knowledge that they are quite real - a senior CIA officer actually co-operated with the filmmakers to present a realistic depiction of their selection and training process, all of which was further spiced with some poetic license.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1. The contrast may be a bit low, but it looks great.

  • Commentary by director Roger Donaldson and actor Colin Farrell

  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary

  • "Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program"

Perhaps more interesting than the movie itself is the accompanying documentary, ""Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program", which features a CIA officer comparing actual CIA (censored) training footage with footage from the film, showing which elements of the film are real and which are fabricated.

The last ten to fifteen minutes of the film provide the only real disappointment, when Al Pacino delivers a long monologue which is basically the ol' "I'm gonna tie you up, hold a gun on you, and tell you the plot" cliché, Excepting that, the film is a lot of fun for thriller fans.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4.

  • General UK consensus: two stars. Mail 4/10, Telegraph 4/10, Independent 4/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 6/10, Sun 5/10, Express 6/10, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Good example of a Hollywood thriller, improved by realistic (within limits) depictions of CIA training, somewhat spoiled by the entire plot being revealed in a long monologue at the end. Will please genre fans. The DVD includes an excellent documentary comparing CIA reality to the film.

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