Why The Recruit should be your next box set
Ivan Radford | On 08, Jan 2023
From All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser to Charlie’s Angels, Noah Centineo is the perfect poster boy for Netflix’s ability to establish a new generation of stars. Charismatic, energetic and earnest, he’s managed to charm viewers as both smooth love interests and goofy sidekicks. The Recruit, created by The Rookie’s Alexi Hawley, taps into both qualities simultaneously.
Centineo plays Owen Hendricks, a lawyer who’s barely on his first day working for the CIA before he becomes tangled up in a messy web of potential scandal. Given the task of looking after the crank letters sent to the agency – a job designed to stop him, well, doing his job – he starts to investigate his first grey mail.
The letter comes from Max Meladze (Laura Haddock), who claims to be a former asset and in possession of dangerous, classified information. The only catch? She’s in Arizona, in prison, serving a murder sentence. Get her out and off the charge, she proposes, and she won’t go public with the intel.
“Can I trust you?” he asks her, when they eventually meet. “When our interests align,” she replies. “Otherwise, no.” What ensues is a fun tale of paranoia, fuelled by the underlying question of how much he – and we – can actually trust her. Laura Haddock is intimidating as a villain who is so honest about who and what she is that she becomes oddly dependable. She’s surrounded by CIA agents who are equally self-interested – from Kristian Bruun’s nervous colleague, Janus, to Colton Dunn and Aarti Mann as seasoned, cynical lawyers – but far less transparent, which leaves us suitably unsure about the line between the good guys and the bad.
There isn’t much more substance than that, and this is strictly familiar territory, but the secret to the show’s success is its leading man. Noah Centineo plays Owen with just enough wit to be a credible underdog but with an equal dose of youthful naivety that you can’t quite be certain that he’s making the right decisions. That allows for both comedy and action, which Centineo – like the team of directors, including Doug Liman – can juggle with ease. From romantic awkwardness to low-key set pieces, the result ticks along at an unchallenging but enjoyable pace. If your interests align with that agenda, you can trust this thriller to entertain you for six hours.