Recruit, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe isn't exactly thrilled by this fastly aging thriller, but could've done worse...
C.I.A. spook Walter Burke (Al Pacino) thinks brilliant MIT grad James Clayton (Colin Farrell) is exactly the sort of person the Agency needs, and begins amalgamating and training him very quickly. But just as Clayton prepares to graduate, he starts to question the morality of his new job, and his feelings for fellow recruit Layla (Bridget Moynahan). Then his mentor Burke taps him to root out an institutional mole. Clayton enters his new role with caution, keeping the recruit’s mantra in the back of his mind at all times—everything is a test.
This actually marks my first time viewing this five year old, and rather averagely received C.I.A. thriller, and I got more or less exactly what I expected—an average film for its type that doesn’t sport a shock or surprising twist in its arsenal. I’ve seen other movies like this, and I’ll likely see even more of them down the line. The advantage of this particular film (the only advantage really) is that not all average espionage thrillers will star Al Pacino and early career Colin Farrell, so I suppose I should counting my lucky stars for small favours. Al is sleep walking a bit, and Farrell was aiming to be the next best thing at the time, so there isn’t a lot of shock or twist in the performances either, but these guys are still more entertaining to watch then a lot of other uninterested parties.
The Recruit isn’t as smart, adept, or breathlessly action packed as better and more recent spy flicks such as the Bourne movies or Casino Royale. I don’t feel as if I’ve learned a thing about modern espionage or politics. The characters aren’t particularly memorable, and I feel as though I could write the plot as it unfolded, but the pacing is pretty tight, and the basic narrative is pretty entertaining. Everything kind of evens out in the end, like a lake without a current—though who really wants to watch that?
This is a particularly unassuming high definition transfer, no frills, no fuss. The image is clean, clear of compression damage, and bright enough to impress your neighbours. Details aren’t really much sharper then a properly up-converted standard edition release. For an espionage thriller there isn’t a lot of extreme close up on gadgets and such to really appreciate the detail levels, and the majority of the film is made under rather dull florescent lighting. Edge enhancement isn’t so much an issue, but some of the contrast levels appear too highly cranked. A symptom of this can be seen in the sparkle of actor’s eyes, which is a bit too sparkly. The blacks are effective, and flesh tones are very realistic, but some colours, darker reds especially are a tiny bit noisy.
Interestingly enough, as you can see from my DVD screen caps (provided by Matt, much thanks) the DVD release was 1.78:1. This Blu-ray transfer is 2.35:1. IMDb.com lists the theatrical ratio as 2.35, so this 'correct' framing may be reason enough for a repurchase for some of the film's fans.
There isn’t too much bang and boom here, mostly technical jargon and ‘moody’ music. When you’ve got an actor as whispery as Al Pacino it’s good to have a clear, centred, and well balanced audio track, so the track wins on that level. There’s a bar scene around the half hour mark that runs out a few surround effects, but most of it is delegated to the front stereo channels. The piece is low-key overall, but this track contains a crisp subtlety that is sorely lacking in many modern thriller releases.
There are no new features adorning this Blu-ray edition that weren’t already part of the original DVD release, save a couple of trailers and a ‘Movie Showcase’ option which is ‘instant access to the most cinematic moments that showcase the ultimate in high definition picture and sound’. Things start with a commentary featuring director Roger Donaldson and Colin Farrell. Farrell does his best to maintain composure, but pretty quickly diverts into joking around, which doesn’t help Donaldson’s focus. It’s a fun enough commentary (all Farrell’s more colourful language is censored with a beep), but isn’t particularly interesting or engaging.
The only featurette is a sixteen-minute look behind the scenes of the film’s inspiration, or ‘Spy School’, which may or may not exist. Despite the focus and title, the featurette is mostly fluff. Then there are four deleted scenes with optional commentary from Donaldson and Farrell. These scenes are, as per the norm, mostly character beats, which would’ve slowed the well-paced feature. Interestingly, parts of the third and longest deleted scenes are partially featured in the featurette. All four are presented in non-anamorphic, standard definition.
I’m trying to figure out the point of Disney’s Blu-ray back catalogue roll-out, but I’m just not getting it. Are they putting out the most average features first? Even the stuff I like ( Unbreakable) isn’t universally loved by the rest of the buying public. Wouldn’t it behove them to put out there really big hits first? I must not have a mind for business. The Recruit is a worthy weekend viewing, but I can’t recommend a purchase, and this disc doesn’t feature any new extras.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 3rd June 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: PCM 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English HoH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director/Actor Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Conrad Bergschneider, Tony Craig, Al Pachino, Colin Farrell, Ron Lea, Chris Owens
Length: 115 minutes
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