The Recruit: Season 1 review – IGN

The Recruit premieres globally on Netflix December 16th.

The most original thing about Netflix’s new spy/thriller, The Recruit, is its lust for gleefully crushing on its main character, Owen Hendrix (Noah Centineo). Not exactly the traditional trajectory for a show of this nature, however, it works on Centineo’s absolute commitment to being that “poor guy” who chronically gets in over his head all season long. It’s basically Wile E. Coyote in a black suit. How much you’ll dig into this book at The Recruit really depends on whether you like your super-competent and tenacious spy buddies, or you’re okay with watching one of them make well-meaning blunder after blunder.

Hendricks is a recent employee of the CIA’s General Counsel Division in Langley, Virginia. Eager to please his CIA supervisor Walter Neyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall), he’s an easy target for teasing for his more experienced, but energetic colleagues, Agent Violet (Artie Mann) and Agent Lester (Colton Dunn). Dumped by the drudgery of reading through the pile of “crazy” mail that accounts for 90% of the conspiracy theory messages from the public, Hendrix actually unearths a letter that reads like a legitimate serious letter from an inmate in Phoenix, Arizona. She wants her released or she threatens to give up the black ops information she knows. It prompts him to ask his overworked and sweaty General Counsel colleague, Janus Ferber (Christian Brunn), about language in the letter that ends up being a vulgarity of something so serious.

Informing Neyland of the findings gives Hendrix the task of following up on the letter and the sender, which brings the green lawyer onto the field with basically no help, hostile people trying to hurt him everywhere, and Everyone To be one step ahead of him. His only ally – which is really questionable – is that prisoner, Max Meladze (Laura Haddock). She sees Henriques as a malleable asset with whom she can demand blackmail and threaten him for her release. Fortunately, despite Owen’s naivety, he is not stupid and manages to mitigate her threats by taking advantage of her need for him to gain her freedom, so an uneasy alliance is forged.

If you haven’t fixed a steady diet of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, or Robert Ludlum books, The Recruit may be a bit overwhelming with its liberal take on CIA acronyms, jargon, and protocol jargon. It’s also peppered with operations upon existing operations to put Hendricks into escalating situations of grave personal threat. Essentially, Owen’s season 1 arc watches Owen make a series of bad choices and then have to get himself out, or have someone like Max cut him out of it. Centineo’s gentle nature and dry wit help keep us by his side, but it gets tiresome in the final episodes. There are only so many times you can watch a guy bleed or bleed on himself without feeling a little uncomfortable.

And there aren’t a lot of characters to root out outside of Hendrix. Max is mercurial and brutal, as her Russian spy persona is drawn. Haddock also has good chemistry with Centineo but it’s not exciting. On the plus side, it’s his roommate Terrence (Daniel Quincy Anoh) and ex-roommate Hannah (Phivil Stewart) who actually take an interest in him. But he can’t be completely honest with them due to the secrecy of his job, which makes them relatively passive in the story. And Bruun’s Ferber is a real shout-out as Owen’s reluctant counterpart explaining CIA terminology, codes, and the risks inherent in Hendrix’s actions. Every scene with him heightens the absurdity and lightens the mood of the show, which is often really needed. The series might as well be a Machiavellian handbook, with a spiky lightness seething throughout. Everyone is stabbing someone in the back, keeping secrets, or setting someone up. Perhaps this should be expected with government attorneys, but Owen took this path to honor his father, who died in Afghanistan. This purity of intent is mocked Much By Max and his tough peers, so much so that it often makes you think either the CIA is some kind of awful, or “Jeez, give the kid a break!”

There is no half watching here or you will be lost.

As a spy series, executive producers Alexi Hawley (The Rookie) and Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) have made this a dense story to follow. There is no half watching here or you will be lost. And there’s a lot of “if X does Y, Z happens” repeated across the eight episodes. The quiet moments between Owen and his friends, or the less awkward moments with Max, are most welcome given the dizzying pace of learning about Russian intelligence operations, field operatives, and origins that go awry in the story.

If you like spyware, The Recruit pulls no punches, so it’ll just scratch your excitement itch. And Centineo Hendricks unlike most spyware we see today keeps you watching.

#Recruit #Season #review #IGN

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