D.C. movies generally fall into one of four categories: the thriller, the annual destruction blockbuster, the historical/biographical film, and the occasional comedy. Most of these movies portray the "inner workings" of Washington. 2003's The Recruit, directed by Roger Donaldson slips neatly into this scheme. The film is a post 9/11 psychological thriller with the CIA as its focus. James Clayton (Colin Farrell), a young upstart with a troubled past is recruited into the CIA by CIA agent Walter Burke (Al Pacino). Burke mentors James, seducing him in Pacino-esque monologues where the recruits are the noble idols of virtue nobly engaged in the battle of right vs. wrong, and the mission of the CIA, pure. Burke informs Clayton that there is a mole in the CIA and his mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering on the suspect Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan), James' fellow CIA recruit and the focus of his romantic interest.
In the typical D.C. movie the audience is treated to a cinematic slideshow of famous important buildings and vistas, but the city itself, D.C. always seems to be a mere afterthought in the production as if simply telling the director telling the audience the film takes place in Washington and shooting a scene in front of the Capitol makes it so. The Recruit is different. Instead of simply saying to the audience "Hey, this is D.C.," Roger Donaldson and Carol Flaisher (Washington, D.C. Location Manager) actually show us some of the city we call home. The Iwo Jima and Jefferson Memorials serve as meeting locations between Clayton and Burke. The memorials serve to emphasize overlapping themes of patriotism, paternalism and nationalism. Georgetown and Adams Morgan are not only given as references but actually show up onscreen. Union Station features as the location for an action sequence that tracks through the central interior, down and under the train platforms and finally out and onto the Red Line, to Shady Grove.
The Recruit is a D.C. movie with a familiar form. The naïve earnest ingénue (Farrell) enters the overwhelming world the big time espionage of only to find that his envisioning of this world is fatally flawed. At the film's outset, Burke tells the new recruits that they have "stepped through the looking glass, what you see what you hear, nothing is as it seems." But beware, Al Pacino is whispering in your ear.
· The Recruit [Wikipedia]
· Roger Donaldson [Wikipedia]
· Union Station, Washington, D.C. [Wikipedia]
· Iwo Jima Memorial [Wikipedia]
· Felix de Weldon [Wikipedia]
· Jefferson Memorial [Wikipedia]
· John Russell Pope [Wikipedia]
· John McShain [Wikipedia]
— Greer Gladney