At the movies: Death and Deceit

The Recruit
by Matt Windman
3 Hatchets

“Nothing is what it seems.”

Although this phrase is repeated often in The Recruit, the movie is basically an everyday action/psychological thriller with some notable qualities.

The story centers on James Clayton (Colin Farrell), who is abducted from his MIT graduating class by a very aggressive CIA. There, a very volatile Al Pacino takes the rookie under his tutelage.

Although the notion of American intelligence agencies on the big screen is by no means a new thing, The Recruit does not attempt to paint the agency in an overtly comical fashion as films like “Men in Black” did.

The movie’s most credible and worthwhile quality is its psychological examination of CIA boot camp (referred to as “the farm”).

Roger Donaldson’s direction revolves around a repetitive deception motif. Throughout the movie, tricks are used to mislead and fool Farrell, leaving the audience questioning what is real and what is a facade. Which character actually is working for the CIA? Which is a Russian spy?

Al Pacino, as of late, seems perfectly content to play a socially and mentally frustrated individual on the verge of receiving his pension. Although this sort of caricature was fully expanded in Any Given Sunday, he lingers here in a supporting role on the verge of pure technicality.

The movie fares better when it focuses on the psychological state of Farrell. His is a pretty straightforward character – a typical computer-genius taken to a new world of violence and deception, this generation’s Dorothy taken to a much more violent land of Oz.

The second half of the movie follows Farrell’s physical and sexual relations with fellow recruit Bridget Moynahan. This part, unfortunately, does not hold the same fascination or excitement as his explosive relationship with Pacino.

The Recruit is by no means action-movie trash, and features no appearances by Vin Diesel (don’t worry, I promise). It is somewhat well-made and definitely deserves a visit from action movie moguls.

Final Destination 2
by Jeff Frost
2.5 Hatchets

Death comes for everyone. It’s an undeniable fact of life. Some of his most unfortunate victims include Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, and the late great comedian Chris Farley. When movies like Final Destination 2 see the light of day, it becomes clear: Death needs to reprioritize.

It’s been one year since death caught up with the survivors of flight 180. The only actual living passenger is Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), who these days looks more like Sybil. She lives as a voluntary patient at a psychiatric hospital, surrounded by padded walls and nothing sharper than newspaper clippings. She spent the last year of her life in seclusion, avoiding all possible contact with death. But she is inexplicably quick to come out of hiding when Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) and a group of unlucky motorists make it on to death’s “to do” list. From there, the audience is treated to a supernatural, super gruesome elimination process.

The plot of the first film leaves little room for mobility. People cheat death, upset his plan, and must be dealt with messily. It is for that reason that Final Destination 2 is just a watered down version of its predecessor. There is virtually nothing new aside from the characters.

Death is still quite a showman. If the producers of this film are correct, he fancies putting sharp things through people whenever he gets the chance. That being said, fans of the first film should enjoy the creative deaths that this film can boast. Unfortunately, only the first few deaths match the suspenseful intensity and inventiveness of the first film. After that, they simply become a nauseating chore to busy the audience until the anticlimactic ending.

Biker Boyz
by Lauren Spitzer
2 Hatchets

We’ve seen a film with fast cars and Vin Diesel. Now, director Reggie Rock Bythwood hops on the speedy vehicle bandwagon and gives us Laurence Fishburne on a two-wheeler.

Biker Boyz takes us for a ride though the lives of a group of daytime lawyers who happen to be bikers and wild partiers by night. Riding around on high class motorcycles is not all these men do. The biker boys are making money while they are at it. But if quality counts for anything, that’s more than I can say for the film.

After Smoke (Fishburne, The Matrix) “smokes” his challengers and is crowned the “King of Cali” for his racing skills, the competition grows as others line up to snatch his title. Stepping up to the challenge is what separates the boys from the men.

Aside from a few stunts and some flashy Harleys, the two quality cast members are the only things that save this film from making its way full speed out of the theater.

Fishburne’s ability to take on a variety of characters complements the film’s protagonist, Kid (Derek Luke, Antoine Fisher), who nicely portrays the bike-riding maturation process – from being a child to being his father’s successor.

An unfortunate addition to the cast is bad boy rocker Kid Rock, who made his film debut appearance as Dogg, leader of “The Strays.” Playing the film’s antagonist, Rock does nothing more than prove that the switchover from music to acting just doesn’t go over smoothly.

Following the motto “burn rubber not your soul,” these biker boys spend more time burning a hole in their pocket.

While it’s refreshing for a film like this to look into an unfamiliar subculture, it’s difficult to find interest in another movie about racing. If you are a dedicated motorcyclist, perhaps this is the film for you. As Fishburne says, it “represents.” For all other boyz and girlz, if you are looking to see Fishburne and friends, there are plenty of other filmz out there.

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