"For the first of its nearly two hours, ‘The Recruit’ is just the sort of diverting, slick nonsense you expect and want when handsome devils like Al Pacino and Colin Farrell play CIA spooks…the film has a setup nearly as preposterous as ‘Spy Game,’ Tony Scott's superior confabulation of guns, guts and blond-on-blond glamour. Only this time everyone's a brunet…no matter how seriously everyone works to make the CIA impossibly sexy, the illusion that these pencil pushers are incarnations of Bond, James Bond, is difficult to sustain. Like ‘Maid in Manhattan’ and ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘The Recruit’ is little more than a fairy tale, one in which the prince gets to go to the ball before shooting it to smithereens." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"There is one thing everybody associated with the film wishes to keep you from noticing…They know it's old and it's weak and it's been done a thousand times before…They know it can't speak for itself, that its devices are threadbare, its characters cliches, that nothing is at stake, that no passion can be found anywhere. So they gin everything else up, until the story all but goes away and you're left with giant faces, star charisma, airbursts of saliva, those crashing cars, a coupla chases and gunfights and all that thumpa-thumpa music…It's nothing but style and noise, threadbare of content, empty of ideas. Is it anything? Not really." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"The derivative ‘Spy Game’ plot is dime-store Jerry Bruckheimer fantasia--a real CIA agent would undoubtedly find it uproarious that anyone would take the bountiful double-crosses and outrageously earnest patriotic gibberish seriously…Why an actor of Pacino’s caliber would opt to take on such a lifeless script is a slightly more intriguing mystery, though at least it gives him a chance to run through obstinately weird bits about heavenly breakfast burritos and pissing like a racehorse every two hours. Farrell, though, is getting more inert with each passing role (maybe it’s his reliance on that torpid American accent), and he’s thoroughly upstaged by Bridget Moynahan as a foxy, no-nonsense trainee with whom he gets unwisely involved." --Chuck Rudolph, Slant Magazine

"There is much darkly mysterious talk in the new CIA thriller ‘The Recruit’ about how things are not what they seem; but for most of this movie, things are exactly what they seem--mediocre…Farrell is all intensity and no nuance. Pacino is in full, flamboyant hoo-hah mode as a person who is supposed to be invisible. Pacino can play many things, but covertness is not his strong suit." --Peter Rainer, New York

"For all of its slick, manufactured suspense, and a ‘surprise twist’ that will come as a surprise to exactly no one, this movie, directed with shrugging professionalism by Roger Donaldson, belongs to a very special genre: the Al Pacino crazy mentor picture. Examples include ‘Donnie Brasco,’ ‘Scent of a Woman,’ ‘Devil's Advocate’ and ‘Any Given Sunday.’ In each of these movies, Mr. Pacino is paired with a younger actor to enact a peculiar generational battle whose outcome is usually a mutual learning of lessons…what Mr. Pacino provides is an acting lesson, one that Mr. Farrell would do well to heed. In an unimaginative, by-the-book movie like this one, the best thing an actor can do is dare to be strange." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"‘The Recruit’ cruises along nicely for an hour or so, propelled by a likable hero (Colin Farrell) and a story that keeps him--and us--constantly off balance as to what's real life, what's a cooked-up training exercise, and whether there's any sure way to tell the difference. Then the picture stumbles badly, spinning into a series of standard-issue shootout and car-chase scenes that even Farrell's earnest charm and Pacino's cocky charisma can't salvage.
But more important, it's questionable whether moviegoers will line up for a story with such skeptical attitudes toward government spying at a time of public concern about US preparedness against international threats." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor