Directed by Roger Donaldson starring Colin Farrell, Al Pacino and Bridget Moynahan.

"Everything is a test", Colin Farrell's character is told in 'The Recruit' and, once again, the Dublin actor comes through this one, holding his own beside a legend and turning the routine into watchable. Computer programmer James Clayton (Farrell) has his pick of jobs when he graduates, but the most interesting offer arrives in a late night bar from Walter Burke (Pacino).

Circling the letters 'CIA' on a newspaper ad, Burke immediately has Clayton interested and then gets him completely hooked when he intimates he knows something about the death of the young man's father in South America a decade earlier. A few days later Clayton has packed his bags for 'The Farm', the CIA academy where Burke and other handlers weed out the data inputters from covert operatives. Surrounded by competition not classmates, Clayton takes his eye off the game when he falls for fellow hopeful Layla (Moynahan) only to find that he can't depend on her or Burke - just himself. But will he live long enough to put the lesson into practice?

Donaldson has proven himself to be an efficient thriller director with the likes of 'Marie', 'No Way Out' and 'White Sands' and while you don't exactly need secret agent talents to work out the twists in 'The Recruit', it's pacy and fun. When you see Farrell and Moynahan arriving at The Farm, you'll wonder if the recruitment drive is more catwalk than covert. But while the film seems largely aimed at the teens and twenties audience (and plays it way too safe in its depiction of the CIA), Donaldson doesn't overdo the action and makes sure the training scenes have a psychological edge.

Once again, Pacino plays the sage with a secret role he's made his own over the last few years and with Farrell great as the in-over-his-head Clayton, there should have been more mind games between the two of them. This becomes a major gripe when the action moves into the real world and Farrell's character has to find a mole in CIA headquarters. The plot then heads for far-fetched and predictable territory when what it needed was some more scenes where the Clayton-Burke-Layla triangle could make life more confusing for each other.

If you enjoyed 'Spy Game' you'll get the same feeling here, but if you're a fan of 'Three Days of the Condor' you might feel shortchanged.

Harry Guerin