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Psychological Thriller <i>The Recruit</i> Features Pacino in 'Different' Role - 2003-01-31

Rising star Colin Farrell matches wits with Oscar-winner Al Pacino in a psychological thriller set in the clandestine inner world of the CIA. Alan Silverman has a look at The Recruit.

Colin Farrell plays young computer whiz James Clayton, newly graduated and sought after by top recruiters; but the one who intrigues him the most (and intrigue is the key word) is Walter Burke of the Central Intelligence Agency.

James signs up and, in the course of the grueling training, finds himself as Burke puts it "through the looking glass . . . where nothing is what it seems."

It's a cat-and-mouse game, but prey and predator are constantly changing places. Irish-born Colin Farrell, who admits he is not nearly as savvy about computers as his character is, says it is the character that attracted him.

"Much more than any of the technical stuff and more than a CIA thriller, I just wanted to approach it to see what's going on with the young guy," says Farrell. "What's going on in his mind and his heart and what's his emotional state during the telling of the story."

Bridget Monaghan co-stars as Layla, a fellow agent-in-training; Monaghan says she learned that, for women agents, gender can be an asset, but romance may be a liability.

"I think it's hard for women to separate their heart from things and she definitely goes through that in this role," she says. "I'm sure if the stakes are even higher, it must be very difficult to be a woman in the field: whether or not you're compromising yourself for certain things and if that's really worth it."

As recruiter and trainer Burke, Al Pacino sees a parallel between actors and secret agents, who he says must actually be skilled at playing a role; but Pacino also likes how the plot keeps the audience guessing.

"I thought the characters made some interesting turns and I don't think I've done this kind of movie before," says Pacino. "I felt there was something about the structure of the screenplay and the thriller aspect of it that could possibly be appealing to an audience. I thought it was an interesting character to play because of what he's been through and what he goes through. I saw it as entertainment."

Director Roger Donaldson has explored the inner and often secret workings of government in such films as No Way Out and Thirteen Days but the Australia-born filmmaker says it's the interaction of the characters that draws him in.

"I think the movies that have appealed to me as the scripts to do are all about relationships," he explains. "That's really where I start my interest in a project and the part of a script that I feel is the most important, ultimately is to really try and relate to these characters as though we were a part of the story. Because I think relationships are ultimately, what's most important in everybody's lives: their friends, their enemies, their family. Those are the things we all have in common and we're all interested in and, for me, a great starting point to create a story around. "

The Recruit was made with the cooperation of the CIA. Credited screenwriters include Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer. The musical score is by German-born composer Klaus Badelt.