5 July 2003 - Somewhere over Bucharest on Flight MH003
The Recruit

How do airlines choose what movies to show during inflight? Do othey just accept films at random from studios? Is there a panel that chooses from a selection? Or is there some sort of secret algorithm?

However they do it, I know that it's a lucky dip when you get to the plane. The choices on this flight are: Just Married, National Security, The Recruit, Children on their Birthdays, Kangaroo Jack, A Guy Thing and Juli Juli Bintang Tiga. I stuck my hand in, rummaged around and came up with... Colin Farell and Al Pacino.

The Recruit is about a young man (Colin Farrell) with a bright future heading towards MIT whose life is turned upside down when he is approached by a recruiting agent from the CIA (Al Pacino).

Now, I'd like to be James Bond as much as any other person, but I know what I'd do given the choice between spending three years as a student hanging out at frat parties and a year undergoing the most rigorous of training regimes learning how to jump through windows, how to be shot at and how to be tortured. But I didn't have a father who was employed by the CIA and killed in the line of duty, so I guess I just don't have the right motivation.

During training, he meets up with a stunning fellow recruit who immediately grabs his attention and presumably his more baser instincts, since we're talking about an action-thriller here, and not a romantic-comedy.

However, before he can finish his training, he slips up somewhere and ends up a wash-out. But he isn't, says our omniscient CIA trainer. He's actually in special ops. And our belle in training school is a double agent.

You know how when you're at a party, and you meet this guy who thinks he's pretty sharp and a hit with all the ladies, but actually he's not? Well, The Recruit's a bit like that. It thinks it's a really clever movie full of plot twists and smart dialogue, but it's just too full of unbelievable things that I felt like banging my head to a pulp against the food tray in front of me.

Let's just take this as an example: there's a killer virus out there that can travel through electricity lines and infect and affect every piece of electronics it encounters. Since this is taken with a straight face by an MIT candidate, I guess MIT likes people who follow orders well and keep an open mind on most things. No, make that all things. Actually, make that all things needed to make a hole-ridden plot work.

Here's another one. Somebody's stealing this code from a secure lab. We know it's secure because there are no floppy drives and no printers in the lab. I know how I would do it. It would involve a video camera and the 'type' command. But what do I know? I'm not a Hollywood scriptwriter. I would have never thought of using an external USB drive.

Even the great Al Pacino can't save the movie. And although Colin Farrell a pretty enough face, pretty doesn't cut it in a film like this.

You go to a movie to suspend disbelief, and be transported away to somewhere for an hour or two, but it's an awfully hard thing to do when you're faced with things that make you go "Wha-?!!" every few seconds.


posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - permalink
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