"The Recruit" Blu-ray Review
June 13, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Itís amazing how time flies. It seems I was just hearing about The Recruit hitting theaters and here it is five years later and Iíve just finished my first viewing of itÖon Blu-ray. Of course with the movie focusing around technology and hackers and the like, itís easy to assume that it will become as outdated as the computer you just bought last week. Oddly enough the film, even from a technical standpoint, still remains fresh and easily accessible for the common viewer. Of course the big question is will the film hold up from the writing and storytelling standpoint as well?
Computer programmer James Douglas Clayton (Colin Farrell) is sought out by CIA recruiter Walter Burke (Al Pacino) who eventually manages to convince Clayton to come see what the CIA has to offer. Clayton excels at his work, but eventually is let go from the CIA training facility after failing an interrogation test. Thinking heíd just blown the opportunity of a life time, Clayton goes on a drinking binge but itís not long until Burke shows up at his hotel room and telling them that he had, in fact, been hired. What Clayton didnít know was that his first mission was going to involve the fellow CIA operative that he fell in love with, Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan).
I was surprised how the film managed to keep the viewer guessing, especially since Iíd thought Iíd seen all the cat-and-mouse films Iíd ever want to see. Perhaps it was the actors, but it was an incredibly fresh twist on the whole ďmole inside a government buildingĒ scenario and I found myself greatly impressed by the final outcome of the film. It wasnít what I was expecting and, if nothing else, I can award the film that it had that going for it.
There were a few elements of the film that simply didnít play out. Farrell doesnít exactly scream ďcomputer programmerĒ and his CIA scout out doesnít make a whole lot of sense since his knowledge of computers is rarely called upon in the film, but itís all easily looked past since the film, at its core, is just fun to watch. The relationship between Farrell and Moynahanís characters also seems a bit forced, but not entirely unbelievable. What is strange, however, is once their take center stage in the film, Pacino all but falls out of it for almost an entire act of the film. Very strange, considering he got top billing on the film.
The rest of the film strings the viewer along quite well, never quite knowing where itís going to go. I had about three different plot elements that I thought would happen, but it ended up taking a completely different direction towards the end. It was quite an original plot and one that actually had me wanting to check it out againÖit was really just quite the grand olí time and a nice middle-of-the-road film that falls somewhere in the popcorn flick area and the dramatic thriller.
One thing that helped the film move along so briskly in pace and keep you on the edge of your seat was Klaus Badeltís score. I knew immediately from the films beginning music that I recognized the composer, but it wasnít until his name popped up on screen was I able to place it. It has a bit of an Equilibrium feel to it at times, which I guess may come from the ďcorrupt governmentĒ angle both films share, but all in all the score is really what makes some of the sequences in the film. Not to mention the directing by Roger Donaldson sculpted out a fine picture.
Overall The Recruit isnít an award winner by any means, but it is still just a lot of fun to watch. Its PG-13 rating means itís accessible to most audiences and the more squeamish or easily offended wonít be turned off by anything too graphic or foul mouthed in this film. Recommended.
There isnít too much on this Blu-ray edition that movie goers didnít get on the single disc DVD release, but it might still be worth checking out if only for a few elements. First off, however, is the packaging and menu layout; the film comes in a standard elite Blu-ray casing and the pop-up menu system works flawlessly for in-movie navigation. There isnít anything too spectacular about the packaging or the rest of the presentation of the film until we get into the audio/video elements.
If you saw the film on its original DVD release you might remember that the film was presented in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio and not itís OAR of 2.35:1. This cropped ratio was something the director preferred, but Touchstone has gone back and given us the 2.35:1 ratio for this Blu-ray release, bringing the film home in its original theatrical exhibition for the first time. Since the 1.77:1 was director preferred, however, it may come as a tossup for some, but I personally found the 2.35:1 transfer to be satisfactory; of course I havenít seen the DVD transfer, but I was actually impressed by some of the shot composition in this aspect ratio even before reading about the different transfers for this film. On the Blu-ray side of things the VC-1 codec smoothes over some details on the close up shots, but a lot of the city and atmospheric shots boast a strong level of detail. The accompanying Dolby Digital 5.1 Lossless track (a regular 5.1 track is included as well) is crystal clear, but despite being a big government conspiracy film, rarely gets into many shootouts. The end of the film makes the most of the surrounds, but aside from that there isnít much going on in this track aside from some extra clarity.
For the extras we have only one Blu-ray exclusive, which is really just a chapter skip to some of the more visually and aurally impressive sequences. Not really what Iíd call a special feature, but if people are too lazy to know what good Hi-Def looks and sound like when they see it, I guess this could be beneficial in some way. The rest of the extras are all ported over from the DVD release and include the commentary with director Donaldson and Farrell, who make for an entertaining pair although Farrell seems to be obsessed with alcohol and dropping F-bombs for the majority of it. Four deleted scenes (6:34), also with commentary by Donaldson and Farrell and a ďSpy School: Inside the CIA Training ProgramĒ (15:58) wrap up the extras, none of which are in hi-definition.
That does it for this Blu-ray release, but considering the film wasnít exactly a big success, I donít think we could ask for much more than a commentary track and a few little extras. A making-of would have been nice, but I doubt it would have been much more than a fluff piece, so maybe its best we didnít get one. In any case, upgrading to this Blu-ray edition has only a few perks: the new aspect ratio and the video/audio transfer. Either way this release comes Recommendedóitís a fun movie and looks great in high definition, although your surround sound wonít get much of a work out.
The Recruit is now available on Blu-ray.