Above-average thriller, but not very memorable.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has strong language and sexual references and situations, some exploitive (intended to get access to secrets). Characters smoke and drink, sometimes to excess, especially after receiving bad news. There's a lot of peril and violence, including torture that's graphic for a PG-13. Characters are killed.
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What's the Story?
When you lie all the time, how do you remember what is true? How do you remember to care? That is a theme of most spy movies, and it is right at the center of this twisty story about a grad student from MIT who is recruited for the CIA, put through a brutal training period, and then sent out to find someone on the inside who is working for the bad guys. Grizzled veteran Burke (Al Pacino), who has mastered the art of identifying the right candidates and enticing them to join up, even though there is no chance of money or recognition. He tells James Clayton (Colin Farrell), Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan), and the other recruits that everything is a test; nothing is as it seems. At the CIA training facility, they learn not to believe anything or anyone and to lie without quickening their pulses or dilating their pupils. And they learn that nothing matters -- no feelings, no friendships -- except for completing the mission. The other students are told that Clayton was dropped, so that Burke can use him undercover to find which one of them is working for the other side. Is it Layla?
Is It Any Good?
THE RECRUIT has some supple plot twists, but the story sags in the middle, there aren't any gee-whiz gadgets, and the preview gives too much away. It's an above-average thriller, but not especially memorable.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the classic conflict we confront when we allow the ends to justify the means. How do we create an organization of liars and keep them honest? Would you like to be a spy?
- In theaters: January 31, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2003
- Cast: Al Pacino, Bridget Moynahan, Colin Farrell
- Director: Roger Donaldson
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, sexuality and language
- Last updated: March 5, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Sensational, implausible, violent: Irresistible to teens.
The Bourne Identity
Violent but thrilling first of the Bourne action trilogy.
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