The Netflix series The Recruit revolves around a fresh-faced CIA lawyer embroiled in international intrigue. His travels also take him to Vienna for parts of two episodes, and we tracked down the significant locations used.
- Hotel Royal, Café Korb and the Donaukanal feature prominently
- See also:
Where was the Recruit filmed?
After Jack Ryan’s brief appearance, another CIA man turned up in Vienna for parts of the second and third episodes of Season 1 of The Recruit. We tracked down as many locations as possible from what we saw on screen.
(Warning: may contain minor spoilers.)
Essentially, Owen Hendricks flies in to meet clandestinely (or not, as it turns out) with a contact at the US embassy.
You might assume the opening nighttime aerial view of the city is the Danube. Actually, it’s the Donaukanal: the arm of the Danube that breaks off from the main river to skirt Vienna’s old town.
(Also known for the view from a rooftop restaurant inside)
The note our CIA man received in the lobby tells him to go to the Hofburg Café on Stephansplatz. Remarkably, Hendricks sets off in exactly the right direction for the square, which would be just around the corner.
The Café-Konditorei he passes is a branch of Aida, famous for feeding US servicemen ice cream and donuts in the aftermath of WWII.
The Café meeting
(Our protagonist sits just below this sign)
Hendricks then sits outside the café awaiting his contact.
Café Hofburg is a plausible name, since the Hofburg is the Habsburg palace complex at the centre of historical Vienna. But the scene takes place at Café Korb (not far from Stephansplatz): one of Vienna’s more celebrated coffee houses.
The next minutes take us inside the US embassy. I’ve never been inside so cannot say if that was filmed in the real location.
Car scenes and chase
(Church tower inside the Deutschordenshaus)
After the meeting, Hendricks leaves Hotel Royal and takes a taxi for the airport. We catch a glimpse of the tower of the Deutschordenshaus in the background, where Mozart once lived.
The scenes in the car and the subsequent car chase take place on the eastern side of Vienna’s Ringstrassen: the large boulevard that marks the border of the old town.
As far as I can tell from the view through the car window, most of the action is on a stretch between Julius-Raab-Platz and the State Opera House.
(We get an excellent view of the magnificent Staatsoper opera house)
You can spot, for example, the MAK museum of applied arts and design, the Radetzky monument, the edge of the Stadtpark city park, and the opera house itself (the same building played a key role in Mission Impossible 5).
(Scene of the car crash)
Hendricks crashes his car on Stubenring, close to the junction with Franz-Josefs-Kai, then runs off north onto the Aspernbrücke bridge that crosses the Donaukanal.
This route would take Hendricks past the Urania building we saw in the opening aerial shot of Vienna.
(Hendricks jumps into the Donaukanal here)
On the bridge and hemmed in by attackers on both sides, Hendricks leaps into the water and swims off downstream. If he kept going for a few hours, he’d eventually reach Slovakia.
Hendricks emerges from the river at another bridge to engage in conversation with several waiting foreign agents. The brick building above the walled banks is the Rossauer Kaserne, an army barracks built a few years after the 1848 revolution.
(Hendricks climbs up the steps on the left of the photo)
The location used (Augartenbrücke bridge) is just a few minutes walk away from the Aspernbrücke (upstream, mind you, so let us say Hendricks cunningly changed direction while swimming to confuse his pursuers).
(Some of the street art we see in the scene)
And that’s pretty much it for Vienna, since we next spot Hendricks in the airport on his way home.