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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment





The Recruit [Blu-ray]


(Roger Donaldson, 2003)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Touchstone Pictures & Spyglass Entertainment

Blu-ray: Touchstone Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 115

Chapters: 16

Size: 50 GB

Case: Locking Blu-ray case

Release date: June 3rd, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1



English 5.1 Uncompressed (48 kHz/24-bit), English DD 5.1 Surround, Spanish DD 2.0



Feature & Extras: English SDH, Spanish



• Feature Commentary by Roger Donaldson & Colin Farrell

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Roger Donaldson & Colin Farrell

• Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program




The Film: 6
Ever since David Cronenberg cashed in the "nothing is as it seems" craze in his 1999 romp eXistenZ, it seems audiences just can't get enough of the concept. A proper film historian could no doubt pinpoint the exact moment when this idea first took shape in the movies – probably in the silent era somewhere – but you have to admit that the medium seems the likeliest of art forms for such of sleights of hand. David Mamet made quite the point of it in any number of screenplays, for example, in his aptly titled House of Games.

The Recruit was written primarily by Roger Towne - not to be confused with Robert Towne (Chinatown; Shampoo), whose major credit thus far was his screenplay adaptation of Malamud's novel, The Natural. He was helped in this endeavor by Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer. The "nothing is as it seems" line is repeated as a mantra of sorts by Al Pacino's character. Walter Burke is a recruiter for the CIA. Or, is he? Burke aggressively recruits James Clayton (Colin Farrell), whose father disappeared years ago in what may have been a government covert operation. Did he? Was he? Was it? Clayton joins up in hopes of finding answers to his lifelong quest regarding his father. He is eventually taken to some hidden outpost, euphemistically referred to as "The Farm." Or, is it? While in training he meets the lovely and mysterious Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan). Might she be a "sleeper" in the service of our country's enemies? Clayton undergoes training in covert operations and is given assignments to test what he has learned. But are they pretend assignments or the real thing? You can see where this is going. And you either throw up your hands or go along for the ride.

Image: 8 (8~8.5/9)
The score of 8 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value on a ten-point scale for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.

The mood of this movie is dark, and this idea continues right into the black levels, which have a tendency to overwhelm the picture frame. Unlike special effects movies, of which The Recruit is not an example, the image is not particularly sharp – at least not often. [That's a lot of nots – like the movie. – LN] On the other hand, it is filmlike. When I would see such movies at the theatre I worried that the projector focus wasn't spot on, or if there was a problem with the projector itself. But the evidence of high definition transfers of films like this one is fairly conclusive that there never was anything wrong with projection – alas.












Audio & Music: 7/7
I felt the sound mix skimped more than it should have on the surround action, but it held my interest all the same. Klaus Badelt's gloomily rhythmic music, often placed center-stage, hits the right note, however.

Operations: 7
The very essence of simplicity.

Extras: 4
Bleeps on the commentary track! I don't get it. Colin Farrell's language notwithstanding, the banter between him and director Donaldson is congenial, like drinking buddies reminiscing over the fun time it must have been to make this movie. Don't expect any great insights into the art form, however. There's also a quarter-hour featurette hosted by Chase Brandon, the CIA informant – er, technical advisor – for the movie. He doesn't really reveal all that much. We could hardly have expected else.



Bottom line: 6
Given the material, I found The Recruit well paced and well directed. I thought Farrell, as the rabbit, and Pacino, as the hound, complemented each other nicely, with Ms. Moynahan offering just the right amount of mystery to keep us guessing until the climax. The fact that this film is on Blu-ray can only be a good thing in the usual ways. Should make a good rental.

Leonard Norwitz

June 1st, 2008








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