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Originally published by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on Friday, February 7, 2003. All rights reserved.

The Recruit will keep you guessing

Thanks to Walter F. for the link and to Heather11 for the text of the following review of THE RECRUIT, a movie featuring a cameo by Wide Mouth Mason.

By Cam Fuller, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix


STARRING: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan

DIRECTOR: Roger Donaldson

THEATRE: Capitol

Rating 4

The Recruit is going to sign up a lot of volunteers.

Al Pacino's stellar reputation will bring the initial wave of moviegoers. But it's word-of-mouth that will sustain the interest. This is a movie you can actually talk about afterwards, a movie that you will be advising your friends to see.

It's not going to change your life, but for a big-budget spy movie, it's unexpectedly original and it keeps you guessing. (And, as a bonus, there's a scene with Saskatoon's own Wide Mouth Mason playing their song Change in the background during a nightclub scene.)

Pacino plays CIA recruiter Walter Burke, who fixes his gaze on MIT grad James Clayton (Colin Farrell), a computer whiz who happens to look great with 5 o'clock shadow. James's backstory: his father disappeared in 1990 under suspicious circumstances in Peru. Maybe pops was CIA. Maybe James can learn more if he joins the "company."

The movie is neatly organized into three parts: Burke's clever luring of James, the CIA boot camp for new recruits, and the ensuing first mission. The post-911 feeling that maybe the free world actually needs these invisible snoops does nothing but help the film's relevance.

Pacino is wonderfully inscrutable as the wily veteran. Farrell (the new Brad Pitt?) has the right mix of determination and naiveté. The love interest is fellow recruit Layla, played effectively by Bridget Moynahan (the new Sandra Bullock?). The James and Layla affair is the least interesting aspect of the story but it's necessary to advance the plot.

The best thing here is the feeling of disorientation which is sustained with deceptive ease by director Roger Donaldson. Just when you think you know the good guys from the bad guys they switch places. You have to be willing to play along a bit -- save your incredulity for after the credits, please! -- but it's worth it.

Copyright © Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

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