The Recruit (2003)

Storyline : The Recruit 2003

James Clayton (Colin Farrell), a computer programming expert at MIT, is recruited by senior Central Intelligence Agency instructor Walter Burke (Al Pacino) to test for a position with the Agency. After witnessing an extraordinary demonstration of Clayton’s computer skills, Burke further tests the intelligence of Clayton with an open puzzle encoded on the sports page of a common newspaper, the solution of which gives to Clayton Burke’s telephone number. Clayton agrees to be recruited, in part, to find information concerning his father who he suspects was a CIA operative that disappeared when Clayton was a child. After passing numerous psychometric, psychoanalytical, aptitude, and polygraph tests, Clayton is taken to The Farm, a CIA training facility. There, Burke and other instructors teach the candidates the skill sets of espionage, covert operation protocols, and intelligence gathering techniques. During a surveillance exercise, Clayton and fellow recruit Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan) are kidnapped by men apparently from a foreign intelligence service.

Clayton is brought to an isolated cell and tortured for several days but refuses to give up the names of his CIA instructors. When the interrogators provide evidence that his defiance is contributing to Layla’s suffering, Clayton relents and names Burke. The rear wall of the cell then opens to reveal Burke, Layla, and the other recruits sitting in the lecture theater at The Farm, having witnessed the entire event; the kidnapping being just another training exercise. Clayton is cut from the program, but Burke arrives at his hotel the next morning to advise Clayton his dismissal was a fake and he has been appointed to be a non-official cover (NOC) operative. Burke assigns Clayton to spy on Layla, claiming the CIA has evidence she’s a mole for a foreign intelligence service attempting to steal a top secret computer virus from the CIA’s database. Clayton is provided a job as a low-level CIA data-entry processor and enters a romantic relationship with Layla. He eventually uncovers proof that she is removing the virus piece-by-piece using a USB flash drive.

Clayton surveils Layla as she brush-passes a note to her contact and follows the man through the Union Station. After a brief scuffle, Clayton kills him and discovers the contact is Zack (Gabriel Macht), a CIA agent who had also been a recruit at The Farm. When confronted with the evidence, Layla explains to Clayton she was officially sanctioned to test the security protocols of CIA headquarters by attempting to remove a fake virus, and Zack was a NOC agent. Clayton, by virtue of his familiarity with computer programs, is skeptical and reports his suspicions to Burke who initially congratulates Clayton on passing “the final test.” Burke is caught in a lie, however, when he tries to convince Clayton his gun is loaded with blanks. Clayton fires a shot proving otherwise but flees when Burke knocks the gun from his grip. Burke then chases Clayton through an abandoned warehouse, and boasts that he organized the entire scheme to sell the virus for $3 million. Held at gunpoint, Clayton agrees to hand over the virus, only to show that he has been broadcasting Burke’s admission from his laptop back to CIA headquarters. Burke becomes incensed and chases Clayton outside to find a S.W.A.T. team had assembled.

Unbeknownst to Burke, Clayton’s broadcast did not work and a fake broadcast was displayed. The CIA were there to arrest Clayton and had no knowledge of Burke’s treachery. Believing to be caught, Burke rails at his unjust treatment by the CIA, allowing the agents to conclude that Burke is the traitor. Burke then realizes he incriminated himself and draws his gun; committing suicide-by-cop. Afterward, Layla consoles Clayton before he heads back to CIA headquarters for debriefing. On the drive to Langley, Virginia, Assistant Director of Operations Dennis Slayne (Karl Pruner) makes a comment alluding that Clayton’s father was a NOC agent when he died. IMDb

The Recruit 2003

The Recruit 2003


  • Al Pacino as Walter Burke
  • Colin Farrell as James Douglas Clayton
  • Bridget Moynahan as Layla Moore
  • Gabriel Macht as Zack
  • Kenneth Mitchell as Alan
  • Karl Pruner as Dennis Slayne


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