The Recruit is a thriller containing a loaded cast filled will notable talent, including Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. The performances are fine, but the script and many of its concepts are one step short of ludicrous. No one is going to believe this is what the CIA is like.
This could’ve been a decent thriller. The entire first half of the movie revolves around the training of the CIA recruits and is utterly absurd. The mere notion that the CIA trains rookies via torture is hilariously awful and impossible to buy into. Worse yet, it’s mostly boredom-inducing, and many of the training scenes offer little to the story.
The second half turns into a muddled chase and the same line “nothing is as it seems” must be spoken 25 times. It’s annoying in repetition and the fact that it’s obviously giving away the ending to its audience and the characters. The final showdown, which should be an intense stand-off, is one of those movie moments where the entire plot line is laid out in dialogue by the bad guy when he could have ended it in less than a minute.
This is the type of movie where you’re expected to believe the CIA is smart enough to disable disc drives and printers to prevent a leak of information, but a USB thumb drive is fair game. It’s certainly illogical, and the constant twists and turns are not entertaining. They’re dull and tiring by the third act as you wait for this one to end.
In theaters, The Recruit was presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. On DVD, the film was delivered in a 1.77:1 ratio, which is apparently the way Donaldson preferred it. This Blu-ray brings the theater experience to home video, keeping a 2.35:1 ratio.
The Recruit was mostly shot in dim lighting conditions. The transfer carries a murky look to it, though this is a more of a problem with the source. Black levels are strong, though fail to create contrast with the muted color tones. There is some noise in the bright whites, and some edge enhancement is distracting in multiple scenes. The transfer is artificially sharp, and can produce some excellent detail at times. For the most part, it’s too dark to notice.
Aside from a car chase near the finale, there’s little audio punch from the film. A hint of bass comes from crashing metal, and the cars nicely sweep through the speakers. Otherwise, this is a dialogue driven thriller all the way through.
Extras are carried over from the DVD. A commentary from director Roger Donaldson and Colin Farrell dips into various filming aspects. Four deleted scenes also offer commentary. A 16-minute featurette looks at the actual training used by the CIA, entitled Spy School.