Recently, we were sent on a covert mission to the Spy Museum (here in DC). Our handler, Amanda Ohlke, tasked us to infiltrate the new CIA-inspired comedy thriller, The Recruit. Alongside we journalists, the operatives on the scene included star Noah Centineo, femme fatale Laura Haddock, series creator/showrunner Alexi Hawley, director Doug Liman (an agent behind Bourne and the Smiths), and consultant and former CIA attorney Adam Ciralsky—who was called “a wunderkind of the national security establishment.”
It should be noted: The operatives, although from various field offices, displayed high levels of camaraderie—several sharing the executive producer mantle.
Others, there to observe, included “political tastemakers and government officials including Ambassador Roger D. Carstens, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) at the U.S. Department of State.”
During the Operation (The Op) we were given access to episode 1 of the series. However, utilizing my network, I was able to secure the full 8-episode season in advance. Thus, I have extra insights into the goings-on. The following is my declassified report:
When I received the notice Noah Centineo, an established YA hero and burgeoning superhero had been chosen to lead a CIA-lawyer espionage thriller comedy action-adventure, I wasn’t sure where this would go but I was intrigued. After all, Centineo is a ‘charm engine’ able to make any role not only memorable but endearing. What I didn’t expect was a show that inspired me to retitle it: The Recruit: In The Sh!t—but that is where Centineo’s Owen Hendricks perpetually lands.
“The Recruit is fueled by an unwavering suspicion Centineo’s Owen
is going to fall face-first into a splashy death,
and you can’t stop watching to see how spectacular it will be.“
At rise, we witness an Op on the verge of going kaboom. Only Owen recognizes the incoming threat but, of course, no one listens to a 24-year-old attorney (who’s fresh out of the packaging). What happens? We don’t know because we’re slingshotted back to two weeks earlier when Owen is 48 hours into his career in the CIA’s Legal Honors Program. Like Ciralsky, who inspired the character, Owen is a wunderkind but he’s also a thrill junky. A combination that detonates a chain of increasingly disastrous plot explosions. So, good stuff.
This CIA Legal Corps is a treacherous and shockingly funny place—shocking because we probably shouldn’t laugh but the show’s creator Hawley adds ‘office drama’ to the genre mix and that keeps the giggles coming from the schadenfreude of it all.
Led by Director Nyland, a hilariously stoic Vondie Curtis-Hall, alongside the show’s screwed-up version of Scully and Mulder, Aarti Mann and Colton Dunn, and the delightfully twitchy and overly caffeinated Kristian Bruun, exploring the halls of the legal corps is a good time. Elsewhere we have field operatives like the ruthless Angel Parker and the shady Byron Mann. Torture happens (but we mustn’t talk about that). The field operatives pose as much danger to Owen as his roommates, Katharine King So and Daniel Quincy Annoh, provide unconditional support—and this unexpected tenderness from Owen’s home life brings the chaos of his workplace into balance.
Then there is Max (Haddock), a murderer with a clandestine past. She sends a “graymail” that threatens to expose secrets the CIA needs to remain dark. Max is the one who lights the fuse on Owen’s life (but at least there’s lots of sexual tension to take the edge off).
And that is why we watch the show.
Infused by high dosages of absurdity and cutthroat whimsy, The Recruit yanks you straight through all 8-episodes and down into the rabbit hole of a CIA Wonderland.
The Recruit launches globally today on Netflix.
Watch it HERE and check out the gallery below.