Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Featured Film - 2/27/09

New movies are usually released to theaters every Friday, but who’s got 10 bucks these days to drop on a movie that may well be a load of crap? Given those odds, each Friday I offer an alternative on DVD that you can rent at your local video store (or in some cases, avoid at all costs). Some will be new releases, others you may have to hunt for, but all of them are available to light up your small screen should it be a lazy Friday night.

The Recruit

Seen anything good at the movies lately? Not likely. January and February are typically slow months when it comes to good movies. Why? Studios tend to release their blockbuster material during the summer season, and their Oscar-bait heavy-hitters in the fall. Early spring becomes, for the most part, a dumping-ground for everything else. Every now and then, however, you’ll find a diamond or two in the rough. One such film was little-known 2003 spy-thriller The Recruit, a quick, smart, and entertaining ride through the world of covert operations.

The movie follows computer programmer James Clayton (Colin Farrell) as he is approached by CIA recruiter Walter Burke (Al Pacino). Burke tells him that his father, who disappeared years earlier, was in fact a CIA operative, and that James’ skills could be of great use to the agency. He enrolls in a training program for new recruits, where he quickly befriends a co-recruit named Layla (Bridget Moynahan) and finds himself in over his head in a strange and dangerous world.

The Recruit was released at the height of Farrell’s popularity from a few years ago. He seems difficult to find onscreen anymore (I’m interested in seeing his appearance in last year’s indie success In Bruges), and I can’t figure out why. He was one of my favorite up-and-coming actors, and he does well playing the lead in this tense thriller. Pacino is Pacino, so your opinion of his performance will be driven by your opinion of him. I love him. Moynahan completes the lead triangle well, and I maintain that she’s one of the more underrated actresses around today. This is more an intrigue thriller than an action thriller for the most part, so the strength of the three leads is vital, and it pays off. Director Roger Donaldson (who previously helmed the excellent political thriller Thirteen Days and returned to top form with last year’s The Bank Job) brings a restraint to the film that steers it away from the action-happy madness of many spy flicks and weaves a tense and entertaining story. There are enough twists and turns along the way to satisfy most thriller fans, and even if a couple are a tad predictable, the film proves deft enough to never make them feel cheap and contrived. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but the movie does what it does with near flawless execution, and it’s a great ride. 2002’s The Bourne Identity gets all the praise, but I found this a far more intelligent and entertaining movie (I didn’t care for the first Bourne at all, and I haven’t seen the much-lauded two sequels). If that type of film is up your alley, give this one a look. - **** (out of 4)

The Recruit is rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, and language.

1 comment:

Darius said...

You know, I thought this movie was too predictable, but it's been awhile since I saw it. In Bruges is great, you have to see it!