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The Recruit (2003)

The Recruit


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 165
Fresh: 71
Rotten: 94

Critics Consensus: This polished thriller is engaging until it takes one twist too many into the predictable.

Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 16
Rotten: 21

Critics Consensus: This polished thriller is engaging until it takes one twist too many into the predictable.


Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 109,738


Movie Info

A brilliant young man is tapped to join the elite branch of American intelligence, only to discover how complex and dangerous the job can really be in this suspense-drama. James Clayton (Colin Farrell) recently completed his studies at MIT, where he graduated at the top of his class and is pondering his next move while he works as a bartender at an upscale nightspot. One evening, Clayton is approached by Walter Burke (Al Pacino), a recruiter for the Central Intelligence Agency, who describes … More

PG-13 (for violence, sexuality and language)
Mystery & Suspense , Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By:
Kurt Wimmer , Mitch Glazer , Roger Towne
In Theaters:
May 27, 2003
Box Office:
Touchstone Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Recruit

All Critics (177) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (71) | Rotten (94) | DVD (33)

Here I suspected the ultimate villain almost from the very beginning -- and, if I wasn't fooled, I can't imagine anyone else will be, either.

Full Review… | February 12, 2003
New York Observer
Top Critic

The Recruit weighs in like a porous brick of recycled polypropylene.

Full Review… | February 5, 2003
Village Voice
Top Critic

I liked all those set pieces where they set up these elaborate schemes, and you're not sure who the good guy is, and the bad guy.

Full Review… | February 3, 2003
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

A conjurer's trick that delights for about an hour, then spirals into idiocy.

Full Review… | February 1, 2003
Top Critic

A compelling, if throwaway, drama.

January 31, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

It's nothing but style and noise, threadbare of content, empty of ideas.

January 31, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

Above-average thriller, but not very memorable.

Full Review… | December 29, 2010
Common Sense Media

I'm still hoping Pacino will dazzle with a great performance eventually...

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

Watchable only for its star power and scarce caffeine kicks...awfully predictable. [Blu-Ray]

Full Review… | June 1, 2008
Groucho Reviews

Many would believe Pacino could do no wrong but he has. The Recruit serves only to ignite a pilot light in the imagination of espionage lovers everywhere.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
Cinema Sight

The film still makes a diverting entertainment in spite of its obviousness.

Full Review… | February 8, 2005

Pacino's puppet-stringing of his recruit is reminiscent of Peter O'Toole's manipulative character in 1980's 'The Stunt Man.'

Full Review… | October 15, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Director Roger Donaldson ... again shows a knack for creating intrigue and paranoia.

Full Review… | January 6, 2004
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Pacino doesn't upstage Farrell, but there's the sense he's daring him to keep up, and Farrell does. Their scenes together crackle.

Full Review… | January 4, 2004

Interessante até o terceiro ato, quando se perde em 'reviravoltas' completamente previsíveis.

November 20, 2003
Cinema em Cena

A standard-issue spy game with all the layered complexity of Ludo.

Full Review… | October 19, 2003
Daily Telegraph

Chris Owens: You're onscreen for about half a minute of The Recruit, but that half a minute was the most enjoyable experience I had all evening.

Full Review… | October 1, 2003

...plays like one of those underwhelming straight-to-video flicks that usually stars either Eric Roberts or Dean Cain...

Full Review… | August 1, 2003
Reel Film Reviews dependent on plot contrivances and so altogether preposterous, it seems an unfortunate waste of Pacino's and Farrell's acting talents.

Full Review… | June 20, 2003
Movie Metropolis

. . .the film ends as a nonentity, arriving at a conclusion that is not satisfying and completely nonsensical because it preys on our stupidity rather than that of the characters.

Full Review… | June 9, 2003

A spy thriller with more twists in its plot than a sailor's knot.

Full Review… | May 8, 2003
Laramie Movie Scope

Though short on car chases and bombs bursting, director Donaldson keeps the tension crackling with tight close-ups, skilled editing and a screenplay that treats its fine actors with respect.

Full Review… | May 7, 2003
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

The plot announces that it's going to gyp us around, not because it has other things to offer, but out of the hope that we will let it off the hook.

April 20, 2003

[Farrel], who seems to be trying to salvage his dignity, . . .gets points for keeping a straight face as Pacino constantly beetles in on him to deliver his lines.

Full Review… | April 5, 2003
Killer Movie Reviews

While you don't exactly need secret agent talents to work out the twists in The Recruit, it's pacy and fun.

Full Review… | April 1, 2003

'What keeps The Recruit from being a waste is good chemistry between Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. It is by no means a great film but not a half bad way to sepnd a couple of hours.'

Full Review… | March 31, 2003
Star Newspapers (Chicago, IL)

Audience Reviews for The Recruit

The Recruit is a film that showcases an interesting idea, but simply doesn't quite get there. It's a great shame because this film could have been something great, unfortunately it falls flat after 45 minutes in, and the plot seems to stop dead in its tracks. The recruit could have been a good film, but instead it just becomes a mediocre film that ends up being a waste of time. You'd think that a film with a strong lead in Al Pacino would be good, right? Well, this one disappoints and by the end of the film you feel that something is missing to really make this film a must see film. Unfortunately , this film is not interesting, and the plot goes nowhere after 45 minutes. The acting was decent, but overall everything seems out of place after a while. The Recruit is a pointless action film that just doesn't deliver. I thought the film could have been much better than this, and it was a total waste. The Recruit had a good idea for a plot, unfortunately the second act of the film just doesn't deliver, and that's what makes this film mediocre. The Recruit is one of those films that had a good idea, but due to a poor script, simply doesn't cut it, and ends up being a flawed film. If you're looking for a good action spy thriller, then don't watch this film. This film is quite disappointing and ends up being a dud by the time the credits role.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

'The Recruit' is a nasty little thriller whose twists and turns keep you guessing until the end, even if its obvious who the real antagonist is. The plot is a bit contrived and the performances aren't spectacular, but the movie delivers cool, swift entertainment. It's not incredibly well-made, but much more enjoyable if you sit back and let the plot unfold before you.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer


Okay performances in a rote exercise of predictability.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

Same old CIA crap. I was expecting a thriller, if not a suspense, but this was outright predictable (lacks even a single unexpected twist) with a rotten presentation. Al Pacino's star power didn't make it any better. He was mediocre (as was the movie).

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

The Recruit Quotes

Jim Clayton:
Nothing is what it seems.
– Submitted by Sidharthan A (2 years ago)

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