Review by Dan Skip Allen
New shows premiere on Netflix every week. Some of them get noticed by fans and critics right away because they have some buzz behind them or awards chatter. Other times, they go unnoticed by most people. That is until word of mouth gets around and people start watching said film or show. One of those shows is The Recruit, the new dramedy starring Noah Centineo as the titular title character.
Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo, Black Adam) is a new young lawyer for the General Council in the CIA. He is the guy that older members in his office, Lester and Violet (Colton Dunn, Arti Mann), pick on. As a joke, he gets to go through a bunch of old mail the CIA got. His life changes when he receives a mailer from inmate Max Maladze (Laura Haddock). This starts them down a road of international espionage and a cat-and-mouse game he never expected to be involved in.
The main character, played by Centineo, travels to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit Haddock's character. She is an enigma, though; he has to go back home to his two roommates, Hannah and Terrance (Fivel Stewart, Daniel Quincy Annoh), with his tail between his legs. He likes to confide with these two young people who are very similar to him in many ways. He even dated Stewart's character for a time, so there is that sexual tension that still lingers.
Like any great spy show, The Recruit is a globe-trotter. It goes everywhere, like Yemen, Vienna, Beirut, Belarus, Russia, and Washington, D.C., where it's set. Words like asset, State Department, Justice Department, Office of Technical Support, and Case Officer are thrown around like candy. This government and spy lingo helps the show be even more authentic than it already is. The showrunner and creator Alexi Hawley lathers this series in spy and espionage goodness. It's hard to keep up sometimes.
The show is about lawyers in the CIA, so legal drama must be present in the series. There is a side plot of a corrupt senator subpoenaing the main character to court. This gets the attorney general involved. Then there is a secret opp involving a Mexican Cartel and missiles. The series mixes in a lot of cool elements like these to help create a fun, adventure-filled spy show. Along with these subplots, there are also some romantic ties among the characters in the series. These add a fun change to a rather serious show.
With all good series, there has to be a strong supporting cast. Along with the main characters, there are some fantastic supporting characters. The head of the CIA, Walter Nyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall), plays the straight man in all the crazy spy games. Curtis-Hall is always good whenever he pops up in a show or film. Dawn Gilbane (Angel Parker) is a Case Officer with her own agenda. Xander Goi (Byron Mann) is another spy overseas who wants to get a big promotion. Amelia (Kaylah Zander) is another member of the CIA who has an attraction to the main character, but she helps him navigate the dark waters that is the government.
Some flashbacks give a little backstory to one of the main characters and show some counterintelligence and various spy jargon. These flashbacks give the series a little more importance when it comes to its overall character development. That is the show's strength: how it takes these characters and makes them an important part. Along with the subplots and the main story, the writing is impeccable by Hawley.
The Recruit is a breath of fresh air in the spy and espionage genre. It has a very good story and direction by Hawley, and Centineo is a revelation in this series. After starring in this show, he will be on many people's lists to cast in the future. He made this show his own. The supporting cast was also outstanding. The show could have gotten lost with all these characters, but they all serve a purpose and add to the overall story. Netflix has done it again. This will be another water cooler show that, once the world gets around, everybody will watch it.
The Recruit is now streaming on Netflix. All eight episodes reviewed.