III - The Recruit

Leave your home behind, lad,
   And reach your friends your hand,
And go, and luck go with you
   While Ludlow tower shall stand.

Oh, come you home of Sunday
   When Ludlow streets are still
And Ludlow bells are calling
   To farm and lane and mill,

Or come you home of Monday
   When Ludlow market hums
And Ludlow chimes are playing
   ‘The conquering hero comes,’

Come you home a hero,
   Or come not home at all
The lads you leave will mind you
   Till Ludlow tower shall fall.

And you will list the bugle
   That blows in lands of morn,
And make the foes of England
   Be sorry you were born.

And you till trump of doomsday
   On lands of morn may lie,
And make the hearts of comrades
   Be heavy where you die.

Leave your home behind you,
   Your friends by field and town:
Oh, town and field will mind you
   Till Ludlow tower is down.

A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
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The Recruit - 2003
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Written by Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer

A mysterious (but hey, aren't they all?) CIA recruiter named Walter Burke (Al Pacino) convinces MIT graduate and whiz kid James Clayton (Colin Farrell) to turn down a job from Dell and join the Agency. Clayton has been searching for information on his long-missing father, and when he finds out the old man might have been a spy, Clayton can't help but go in for training where he finds out that NOTHING IS AS IT MIGHT SEEM!!

Did I emphasize that enough? Maybe I need to put some more tags around it. You won't have any trouble remembering it if you go see this movie, as Pacino manages to point that out to Clayton (and the audience) every chance he gets.

Go into this bar and bring out a woman who intends to have sex with you and don't get sidetracked...and nothing is as it seems.

You screwed up in training and I'm kicking you out...but nothing is as it seems.

The woman you love that seems to be a regular agent, she's actually a mole that you need to expose. I'm the only person you can trust...and nothing is as it seems.

The bad thing is, if you have seen or read any other spy-training thriller, everything is exactly as it might seem. You can see all of the supposed plot twists coming from a mile away. I accurately called the entire ending of the movie with about 45 minutes left to go. Everything in this film has been done before and is no surprise. Even my favorite bit about using a coffee cup to sneak things past metal detectors was done earlier and better in Heist.

I know this isn't anything new, but most of the computer stuff in this movie is utterly stupid. James Clayton's big "discovery" at MIT is a program that apparently breaks into any wireless network and takes over the display of any computer on that network. What sort of legitimate use does this have? Isn't this illegal in some way? Why would Dell want it, other than maybe for some malicious advertising? During the film's climax (and I use that word loosely), Clayton tries to use this program to gain access to the network inside CIA headquarters. He is of course doing this from an abandoned warehouse near the docks. Who knew the network stretched that far? The CIA must be using a lot of Pringles cans.

The secret "virus" called Ice-nine that Layla (Bridget Moynahan) is supposedly stealing from the CIA headquarters is able to move over power lines(!) to infect every computer that is plugged in. Yeah right.

Why are l33t hacking skillz always manifested by how fast someone can type?

Colin Farrell is mediocre, his role could have been played by anyone. Bridget Moynahan is a fairly good actress and is nice on the eyes, but a little too thin for my tastes. Al Pacino plays Al Pacino, the same guy he has been for the last ten years, and eventually devolves into the good old talking killer. Hey Al! Tell us your whole secret plan! He doesn't even give us an Al Pacino screaming moment, denying the audience from another entertainment possibility.

Boring. Stupid. Obvious.

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