The Recruit season 1 review – a crowd-pleasing spy series starring Noah Centineo

By Adam Lock
Published: December 16, 2022 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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The Recruit is fun and frivolous, making an entertaining jaunt out of CIA protocols and complex lawyer spiel, whilst Noah Centineo charms in the leading role. Unfortunately, the series quickly loses steam, becoming formulaic and far-fetched by its second half.

We review the Netflix series The Recruit season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

The espionage genre is an overcrowded market, to say the least, yet this Netflix original series from Alexi Hawley (The Rookie) somehow manages to tweak the formula just enough to offer up something new for viewers. In The Recruit, Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) stars as a cocky, but charming CIA lawyer called Owen Hendricks, who finds himself thrown in at the deep end during his first week of work. The series mixes broad comedy and a laid-back party vibe with the spy genre’s more serious aspects, including heart-racing action and brutal violence, to create something that is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser for the streaming site.

Rookie lawyer, Owen Hendricks, is the likable protagonist of the series, and with Noah Centineo in the leading role, it’s hard not to root for the man. The actor brings his usual fun, carefree attitude to the series, while still providing relatability and authenticity. Owen is an intriguing character, full of contradictions. Whip-smart and competent at law, yet completely naive within the CIA world’s protocols and acronyms. And oh boy does this show love an acronym. More importantly, he’s too enthusiastic for his own good. The newbie gets off to a flying start, cracking cases and going the extra mile. However, this ruffles a few feathers and he makes some early enemies.

Co-workers Violet (The Big Bang Theory’s Aarti Mann) and Lester (Superstore’s Colton Dunn) are two of his first rivals. They are instantly jealous of the suave twenty-something-year-old and dump their toughest assignments on Owen’s desk. Owen reads through these boxes of letters, called gray mail, that contain threats aimed squarely at the CIA. One particular letter from the imprisoned murderer Max Meladze (Laura Haddock) stands out over the rest. Owen digs into this threat further, discovering that Max’s knowledge of classified information could derail the entire agency. What follows is a global adventure, as Owen is hurled into the deadly world of Russian Intelligence and double agents.

It all starts off as a fun ride, with the first two installments masterfully directed by action maestro Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity). Centineo also makes an effortless early impression, bumbling through major catastrophes with an earnest charm. The Recruit blends sarcastic humor and intense action sequences to make a surprisingly effective opener, but this fun spy adventure slowly starts to lose its way by the mid-point.

The series ends up becoming quite generic, with familiar plot beats; your standard, breezy pop soundtrack, and unrealistic romances that are clearly shoehorned in for good measure. These forced romances highlight the show’s more ridiculous plot holes as ‘love’ is left to do most of the heavy lifting. Yes, love is an acceptable motive, but it is a quick get-out in The Recruit, rather than a believable aspect of the character’s own arcs. And talking of the more unbelievable plot devices, you’ll have to throw logic clean out of the window to enjoy this one. What starts as an authentic fish-out-of-water story quickly descends into the downright ridiculous.

Overall, The Recruit is just another one of your typical Netflix properties. A series that relies on a Hollywood heartthrob to lure in its viewers. Things start off strong, like they always do, with a Hollywood director steering the ship, but soon it all starts to fall apart. With all of that being said, the teen heartthrob leading this series is actually what saves it from mediocrity. Centineo carries this series with his relatability and charm, something that could win over many fans in the short term.

What did you think of the Netflix series The Recruit season 1? Comment below.

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