The Recruit (2003)

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Released 28-Jan-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Spy Schools: Inside The CIA Training Program
Deleted Scenes-4 +/- commentary
Audio Commentary-Roger Donaldson (Director) & Colin Farrell (Actor)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 110:19
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roger Donaldson

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Colin Farrell
Al Pacino
Bridget Moynahan
Gabriel Macht
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.90 Music Klaus Badelt

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French Titling
Czech Titling
Turkish Titling
French Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Czech Audio Commentary
Turkish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    James Clayton (Colin Farrell) is a successful MIT software engineering student at the height of his game. One day, at a computer conference where Clayton is making a presentation of his new hacking software, he is spotted by CIA recruiter Walter Burke (Al Pacino). Burke wants Clayton to join the espionage game and become an operative for the CIA, alluding to the fact that Clayton’s own missing father was a CIA operative lost in 1990. Before he knows it, Clayton is at The Farm – the infamous CIA training ground – thrust into a world where everything is an illusion and nobody can be trusted. Here, Clayton meets Layla (Bridget Moynahan) with whom he forms an instant attraction. But there’s more going on here than your five senses can tell. What’s a game, what’s a test, and who can be counted on in the new world of high tech espionage?

    I’m a big fan of the espionage genre, but have been less and less impressed by the latest cinematic offerings. Sure, the James Bond: 007 flicks are still fun for the comic book entertainment they offer. I’m not above being a kid for a couple of hours, and 007 is usually guaranteed to be fun in that classy Saville Row and Fleet Street kind of way. Like a glossy fashion magazine, it's always fun to skim through. But serious explorations of the world of secret intelligence gathering have become few and far between. Indeed, the British have been doing the most impressive work in the genre with the BBC series Spooks and the recent mini-series Cambridge Spies.

    The Recruit is, for the most part, a good old-fashioned espionage thriller. It is, however, unashamedly Hollywood, and lacks the cool poise of the more recent offering by director Roger Donaldson – the political thriller Thirteen Days, which was based on the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Recruit is entertainment, but without the comic book fantasy which makes the 007 films so much fun. That works to its benefit, however, and it has a lot of cute twists, even if you might sometimes outfox them before they come, and great performances by the lead cast. I must say that the more interesting scenes revolve around the sequences at The Farm, and had this film perhaps taken on a darker, more serious (and perhaps even realistic) edge it might have been truly something to behold.

    So, as it is, The Recruit sits squarely in the realm of Hollywood entertainment. That’s not a bad thing. This film is great for what it is, and you surely won’t be bored. My overall impression: good for a Friday night in with a pizza and some friends. And it has definite repeat watchability.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this film was originally shot in 2.35:1, but just like Donaldson’s previous film Thirteen Days was cropped to 1.78:1 for DVD release. There is no panning here, however, and it is my guess that this was intentionally cropped like this. In the case of Thirteen Days it was to remove all the glaring ‘boom-in-shot’ mistakes. As to why it was done here, no clue is given.

    This is a close to perfect transfer, marred by only the faintest of low-level noise in the background on some of the not so well lit shots. This might just be the product of a grainy print, but the important thing to note is that it is in no way distracting. You really have to strain to see it, or get closer to the screen than you normally would which kind of defeats the purpose anyway.

    Colours are vibrant and rich. Flesh tones were spot on. Shadow detail was excellent. Grain was very minimal. Detail was immaculate – this was a very crisp transfer.

    I noticed a couple of white dots on the screen here and there, but nothing distracting. I saw them because I was hunting for them. My friends who I watched this film with did not notice them and told me off for being picky.

    MPEG artefacts are non-existent, and I spotted no other film-to-video artefacts.

    There are nine sets of subtitles. They are white with a black border and can be easily read.

    The dual-layer pause is at 66:47. Honestly, this is my one real quibble as I felt this could have been placed in a dozen better spots during the film. As it is, it takes place in the middle of a conversation and slightly clips the last word in a line of dialogue. That makes it a little jarring and very noticeable. Really, a shame about that.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are four 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtracks – one in English, one in French, one in Czech and one in Turkish. The foreign tracks all seemed pretty clear to me, but I will give most attention to the original English track.

    There were absolutely no problems with understanding dialogue, or any noticeable audio sync issues.

    The range was excellent – the score by Klaus Badelt working the bass and the subwoofer without reprieve.

    Surround use was again fantastic, with a lot of directional cues and use of the rears to capture ambience. Of particular note was the subway chase sequence with people criss-crossing all over the place, bumping into each other, brushing past each other, and trains going back and forth. Wow.

    The subwoofer was heavily utilised with the music, and also to add depth to explosions, gunshots, breaking furniture, vehicles – you name it. Quite impressive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with the theme music in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

Audio Commentary – Roger Donaldson (Director) and Colin Farrell (Actor)

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. These guys play off each other pretty well. Beware, though, Farrell is talking in his native Irish and he can be a little hard to understand when he gets really animated. Donaldson definitely has an analytical edge to him, which works quite well. There aren’t many sequences of dead air here.

Featurette - “Spy School: Inside The CIA Training Program” (15:57)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a look at how the CIA recruit people, and a brief look at what they go through in training scenarios. Interestingly enough, the film stays pretty true to what is displayed here.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented in 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. There are four deleted scenes here:

    These come with additional audio commentary by Donaldson and Farrell, during which Farrell swears a lot and is censored.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release of this feature includes a 5.1 DTS ES track and is THX Certified. Sorry, but R4 just doesn’t cut it in that regard.


    The Recruit is good fun if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and just go with it. My advice – it’s entertainment. Enjoy it.

    The picture is excellent.

    The sound is also fantastic, but lacking the DTS ES track available in R1.

    The extras aren’t voluminous, but they are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
If Colin Farrell where speaking his native Irish you wouldn't understand a word he is saying. - cztery
Aspect ratio - Tom (read my bio)
1.77:1 Aspect Ratio - - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
re: 1.77:1 Aspect Ratio - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)