Netflix The Recruit is an empty star vehicle for Noah Centineo

Is Noah Centineo famous or is he Netflix famous?

The actor broke out – big time – with the teen trilogy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and since then his rise has been meteoric, at least on the streaming platform which quickly greenlit three more Netflix movies with him as the lead.

When the algorithm and Instagram follower count speak, Netflix listens.

And, to be fair, maybe, Netflix wasn’t the only one who wanted in on the undeniably charismatic Centineo’s orbit.

Warner Bros also signed up him as Atom Smasher in Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam movie, a movie that was actually released in cinemas – but of course now with DC in flux under new management, who knows what is to become of his future in the franchise.

But films only give Netflix a two-hour hit at a time. So, it was inevitable that Centineo was to be gifted his own TV series – think of all those engagement hours!

The result is The Recruit, an eight-part action-adventure spy thriller which had the promise of fun, hijinks and shenanigans, but ultimately descends into a confusing mess where you can no longer keep track of anyone’s motivations or loyalty – or maybe you just don’t care to.

The premise involves a just-out-of-school lawyer named Owen (Centineo), an adrenaline junkie who joins the CIA in the counsel’s office. He’s meant to be mostly at his desk, shuffling paperwork.

But then he’s assigned to some old files, clearing mostly baseless threats against the CIA, lunatics who say they have classified information they’ll make public if their demands are not met. Or they’re meant to be baseless, until one file seems to have some base.

Max Meladze (Laura Haddock) is in an Arizona prison, awaiting trial for murder. She’s the one with the clandestine secrets which turn out to be very real indeed.

For a suspend-your-disbelief reason, Owen, the rookie legal eagle, is sent to sort out the case and that’s when he’s caught up in all manner of shady goings-on involving suspicious field operatives, good old-fashioned corruption, globe-spanning betrayal and some Russians.

It’s befuddling as The Recruit chases a coherent plot down the rabbit hole, never to be seen again.

The Recruit had a hopeful start but it got so lost along the way, and added in new elements, such as Owen’s co-workers, a potential romantic set-up, his housemates and friends, there’s too much swirling around for you to grab a hold of.

And once you’re no longer invested in any of the characters, it becomes even harder to be persuaded into paying attention.

The set-up director, who establishes a series’ energy and visual style, was Doug Liman, who is best known for helming The Bourne Identity as well as frenetically fun movies such as Go, Edge of Tomorrow and Mr & Mrs Smith.

Liman does good work in those initial episodes but the plotting and scripting wasn’t enough to carry the series through its eight episodes.

Creator and showrunner Alexi Hawley’s experience is primarily in broadcast procedurals such as Castle and The Rookie and the scripts struggle with an arc-led story.

And while Centineo is certainly charming and the rest of the cast range from forgettable to fine, The Recruit is ultimately too lightweight and bewildering to be anything more than an empty star vehicle.

The Recruit is streaming now on Netflix

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