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James Clayton might not have the attitude of a typical recruit, but he is one of the smartest graduating seniors in the country—and he's just the person that Walter Burke wants in the Agency. James regards the CIA's mission as an intriguing alternative to an ordinary life, but before he becomes an Ops Officer, James has to survive The Farm, where the veteran Burke teaches him the ropes and rules of the game. James quickly rises through the ranks and falls for Layla, one of his fellow recruits. But just when James starts to question his role and decides to "wash out," Burke taps him for a special assignment to root out a mole. It soon becomes clear that at The Farm, the CIA's old maxims are true: "trust no one" and "nothing is at it seems."
For more about The Recruit and the The Recruit Blu-ray release, see the The Recruit Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 9, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht
Director: Roger Donaldson
» See full cast & crew
The Recruit Blu-ray Review
Should you recruit this disc to be part of your high definition collection?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 9, 2008
Everything is a test.
Welcome to the CIA, or at least Hollywood's undoubtedly dramatized (and probably underscored, to be honest) world of America's intelligence industry. The Recruit slaps some pretty faces and an A-list actor into clichéd roles for a movie that's engaging enough to warrant a watch, but is ultimately bland and highly forgettable. Scattered in between the film's moderately paced and somewhat disjointed plot lie a few interesting tidbits and two curve balls to keep things interesting, but the problem is that I found it hard to care about anything or anyone gracing the screen. Despite the curves, most of the film is predictable and therefore bland, and The Recruit winds up as another film destined to collect dust at the video store for years to come.
Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon) stars as Walter Burke, a CIA recruiter and officer who approaches MIT computer hotshot and part-time bartender James Clayton (Colin Farrell, Phone Booth) to come to work for the CIA. A reluctant Clayton passes up a high-paying job with Dell Computer and agrees to attend a screening process with the CIA when Burke uses knowledge of Clayton's missing father as leverage. At "The Farm," the CIA's covert training facility, Clayton further impresses Burke, aces many of his tests (after all, everything is a test), and meets Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan, I, Robot), another new recruit with whom he finds himself involved in various stages of his training regimen. After an arduous and difficult test that seems anything but, Clayton's release from the program is staged. The next day he is approached by Burke, told the truth about his release, and informed that he has been assigned the most coveted position by the recruits, that of a cover operative. Clayton is assigned the dangerous task of gathering intelligence on a mole who has infiltrated the CIA, an individual whom he already knows and respects.
Such a paint-by-numbers movie is The Recruit and so dull and uninteresting is much of its story that I find myself in the awkward position of having little to say about the film itself. It completely failed to speak to me in one way or another, eliciting nary a response, positive or negative, and the result is one of the more forgettable motion pictures I've ever seen. I recall screening The Recruit years ago and feeling the same way I do now, neither disenchanted, upset, elated, nor even bored, but simply nonchalant. A few tricks and clever situations, a handsome cast, and an admittedly intriguing subject material (along with some interesting sequences that showcase what the training of a potential CIA operative might entail) does not a fine movie make. Al Pacino turns in a moderately good acting job and is another of the few bright spots in the film. I'll give The Recruit a nod of approval for giving a solid effort, but in the end, I'd rather re-watch anything from the good, the bad, or the ugly before another viewing of The Recruit.
The Recruit Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney enlists The Recruit onto Blu-ray in a moderately good-looking 1080p, 2.35:1 framed, VC-1 transfer. The overall tone of the movie is a bleak one, featuring many poorly-lit locales, nighttime sequences, dank indoor interiors, and overcast daytime scenes. There aren't many instances where the transfer has the opportunity to shine because of the intentionally gloomy look of the picture, but this transfer brings out the best of the film, anyway. As a result, some of the image appears washed out, and some fine details are not seen, but the shadows and bleakness adds to the tone of the film. Regardless of the director's intent, this Blu-ray transfer never suffers from poor color reproduction, poor clarity, or a complete lack of detail. Said detail isn't astounding, but there are several instances throughout the picture where the image does offer up some realistic touches. The regular things that so often look impressive in high definition are once again impressive here -- facial hair, stitches and fine lines in clothes and, in this instance, the fine lines and ridges of the paper upon which Clayton reads the dates and looks at the stars representative of fallen CIA operatives of the past. Black levels are solid if not a bit unspectacular, and I would rate flesh tones the same. This print also exhibits the occasional blemish or speckle. The Recruit doesn't look bad, but this isn't an eye-popping transfer, either.
The Recruit Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Recruit enrolls on Blu-ray with a moderately engaging PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. The film offers a decent surround presence, as demonstrated by the score that plays over the opening credits. It sounds somewhat foreboding and serious with some fine low frequency effects and the uncompressed track hearkens the home viewer back to the sense of listening in a high quality, multichannel movie theater set-up. In fact, the films score was probably my favorite aspect of The Recruit. Dialogue sounds "gritty" at times, but I never had any problems with either discernment or volume. Dynamics are fine, and there are a few excellent examples of directionality and sound placement in the track. The shooting range session offers viewers some excellent reverberations and lows. Also, a shootout about three-quarters of the way through the movie offers up some impressive fidelity and bass, not to mention an excellent surround presence. Directionality is also solid here as gunshots flew out of one speaker and traveled to another, and the echos of the shots and the ricochet of the bullets created a tense, exciting atmosphere. The bar scene in chapter six places us firmly there, creating a realistic ambiance. The Recruit doesn't offer up much more than a fairly standard cat-and-mouse drama soundtrack, but this is undoubtedly the best you're ever likely to hear it.
The Recruit Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Recruit finds itself on Blu-ray with a mostly forgettable and average set of extras. Leading things off is a feature commentary track with director Roger Donaldson and actor Colin Farrell. It's striking to hear Farrell's real accent as opposed to the American accent we hear in this and various other films he stars in. The duo is upfront by stating at the beginning that providing a commentary track and watching a film they've made isn't easy to do, but they both handle themselves well. There are plenty of fine stories about the movie including some real-life photos of Farrell and his father seen in the movie, information about some of the weapons used in the film, Donaldson's take on various background images used to create a sense of authenticity in the movie, and so on. Farrell, especially, offers some interesting facts and insights into the story, and fans of the actor or the film will enjoy this track. Four deleted scenes with optional commentary by Donaldson and Farrell (480p, 6:34) follow the commentary track. Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program (480p, 15:58) examines the benefits that Chase Brandon, 25-year veteran of the CIA, brought to the project. Also featured are interviews with cast and crew and a look at both the real-life workings of CIA recruitment and the authenticity of the film. Finally, this disc offers Movie Showcase, a series of scenes that "showcase the ultimate in high definition picture and sound."
The Recruit Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Recruit is a by-the-book thriller with a few twists up its sleeve, but hardly offers viewers anything they haven't already seen. This is the second time I've viewed the film, and my thought process hasn't changed in between viewings. The Recruit is a see-it-once-and-forget-it thriller with a transparent plot and characters, the film's surprise not overly thought-provoking or intense. This Blu-ray release of The Recruit, like the movie itself, is fairly bland. Sporting passable but hardly memorable audio, video, and extras, this disc is best served as a rental for all but the most die-hard of The Recruit fans.
The Recruit Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Disney Announces The Recruit for Blu-ray - March 24, 2008
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Al Pacino film 'The Recruit' to Blu-ray on June 3rd. Video will be presented as 1080p AVC and be accompanied by a 5.1 PCM soundtrack. Extras will mirror the DVD release with audio commentary ...
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