Noah Centineo and Laura Haddock Shine in Spy Series
Jan 10, 2023
Noah Centineo gets too much flack. After playing Peter, the male lead in Netflix’s To All the Boys trilogy, as well as starring in other teen rom-coms from the streamer such as Sierra Burgess is a Loser and The Perfect Date, he finally seems to be branching out into new places. It’s not that these were bad career moves; in fact, each of the previously mentioned films actually did show that Centineo has that movie-star charisma that can carry him through even the weakest of scripts, but it’s easy to tell that he’s meant for more than just those roles. He also had a supporting role as the superhero Atom Smasher in this year’s Black Adam, where he starred opposite one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Dwayne Johnson, but unfortunately, the film didn’t give his character much to do. Fortunately, he also has The Recruit, a Netflix series that feels like it’s woven from the same cloth as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Reacher, but from a much younger perspective. In fact, Owen Hendricks, the titular recruit, is only 24 years old, and even as the first season comes to a close, he’s still learning the ropes.
The series follows Owen (Centineo), who, fresh from graduating from Georgetown University, is recruited to work for the CIA, but not as some badass spy like Jack Bauer, but as a lawyer. His at-first mundane job is quickly thrown for a loop when he stumbles upon an international conspiracy involving the Russian mafia that could unleash a mountain of dangerous US government secrets. In the meantime, Owen finds himself forming an uneasy alliance with Max Meladeze (Laura Haddock) an asset currently serving time in prison in Phoenix, Arizona, who wishes to be exonerated. The conspiracy continues to grow and not only puts Owen in danger but also his loved ones.
The Recruit is action-packed, filled with twists and turns, has a clever and snarky sense of humor, and is convoluted to a fault, but that’s one of the main reasons why it grabs your attention. There are shows like Succession or Better Call Saul that fit that prestige definition where, every time a new episode arrives, it’s a requirement that you dedicate an entire night to it. Then there’s a show like The Recruit. The quality is there, the story is intriguing, and it has all of its charms, but it’s also the perfect kind of show to watch in the winter time, when you’re stuck inside, running on the treadmill, or looking for a show to watch before bed, be it by yourself or with your significant other. This is not a back-handed compliment, either; actually, it’s high praise, and it’s easy to see this series becoming the next big hit for Netflix. It’s the four-quadrant kind of show that has found streaming services a lot of success as of late.
Image via Netflix
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Centineo was the perfect choice to play a character like Owen. He has all the hallmarks of an irresistible leading man with not just the sex appeal, but playing a character so endearing, honest, and frankly, quite relatable. Obviously, the storylines following him trying to thwart an international conspiracy aren’t something most deal with on a daily basis, but The Recruit also sheds a light on his personal life including his love life, from living with his ex-girlfriend (Fivel Stewart) who he may or may not still have feelings for, or his romance with his older co-worker (Kaylah Zander), these sub-plots do at times come close to overstaying their welcome, but at the same time, they also clue us into what’s going on inside of Owen’s head.
Centineo’s chemistry with each of his co-stars shines, but it’s the scenes he shares with Haddock’s Max that are the most compelling. After having smaller roles in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers: The Last Knight, Haddock is finally given an action role worthy of her talent. She seems to relish playing a character that rides the gray line, at times trying to seduce Owen while also proving herself to be quite the fighter. Over all else, it’s the performances from Centineo and Haddock that make The Recruit worth watching and more than just your standard spy show.
There are moments in The Recruit where it starts to lean a little too much into melodrama. While both Stewart and Daniel Quincy Annoh are fun additions to the show, the story doesn’t seem to know how to use them. There are some scenes dedicated to their individual romances, but both are so surface-level that it’s hard to become emotionally invested compared to everything else going on. The needle drops can also be overwhelming at times and sometimes makes the editing of the series jarring, especially when transitioning from some of the weightier scenes. This kind of editing also makes the pacing, at times, shaky; each episode runs around 50 minutes and while some of these episodes move by at lightning speed others feel like they’re taking a little bit too much time.
Image via Netflix
When it comes to the action, those who are fans of other modern spy shows will likely be satisfied. It isn’t as violent as something like Reacher or The Terminal List, but it doesn’t need to be, in fact, if it did lean more into the violence it would’ve likely been more distracting. There are car chases, and shoot-outs, the second episode in particular ends with an especially exciting action scene ripped right from The Bourne Identity (which shouldn’t be surprising, as Doug Liman directed the first two episodes).
Netflix made the right call by choosing to release The Recruit right around the holiday season, with the end in sight for some of their flagship shows, this seems like it could be the start of a new franchise for the streamer, as well as a promising next step in Centineo’s career. It’s not going to win awards, but it was never made for that, if you’re looking for a show to binge with the family during the holidays, The Recruit may be the perfect choice.
All eight episodes of The Recruit are now streaming on Netflix.
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