There’s enough intrigue in Citadel to at least want to keep watching it after the initial few episodes.
BY JOHN MCDONALD MAY 3, 2023
The spy genre must be a number of things before it becomes memorable; it needs to be stylish and slicker than a Pierce Brosnan hairstyle; littered with well-choreographed action as well as some epic special effects too. But how often do we see these recycled ideas and a lack of imagination and individuality? Well, the new Amazon Prime series Citadel might just be the one to break the norms and deliver something potentially unique. A series that’s been described as an “action-packed spy series with a compelling centre”, Citadel stays loyal to the foundations of the spy genre, but experiments with some exciting concepts to give the film a very flashy, heartfelt, and highly enjoyable outcome.
Only the first three episodes were available for review, but Citadel already consists of electrifying action, and enough elegance to satisfy the purists out there, and if you like twists and turns, then you’re in luck because you won’t know which way to look. Created by David Weil (Invasion) this science fiction-infused series also has the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) attached as executive producers, so you know it will already tick certain entertainment boxes. But one thing that already sets it apart from other like-minded projects is the cast, with Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas leading the way as the charming dual protagonists.
Citadel is a secret organization that operates globally, adopting the best agents from rival agencies and dangerously kicking things up a notch. Among the best are Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), who begrudgingly work as a team to take down the underground criminal syndicate, Manticore, but a botched mission in episode one leads to the untimely fall of the Citadel and its agents. Years later, Mason Kane, who now goes by a new suburban title and enjoys a simple life with his family, has been afflicted with amnesia but soon becomes troubled by dreams of his past. But after former Citadel head Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci) learns of his survival after the previous failed
mission, he hunts Kane down and re-recruits him into the organization with the aim of taking the now all-powerful Manticore from succeeding in their destructive nuclear plans.
As well as zooming all around the world at seemingly breakneck speeds (The States to Europe in no time at all), Citadel is also split over multiple timelines too, something that seems to be a go-to narrative trend over the past few years. It’s certainly a lot to handle in the first three episodes, coupled with the characters, the plot twists, and getting to grips with the overall story. If we're being honest, it struggles to manage everything at times though, so here’s hoping that it finds a better way to manage all the chaos as the series continues.
But bear in mind, it's still early days in the life of Citadel, and there are some great aspects that hit the ground running from the beginning. The science fiction concept is a breath of fresh air, and the casting decisions have been well thought out and look to have paid off too. Joining Madden, Jonas, and Tucci (the latter of the three quickly becomes the main source of comedy too and steals the show in general) along for the ride is Lesley Manville who portrays Dahlia Archer, the boss of Manticore, in a role completely foreign to her usual performances, but one that she looks set to have a lot of fun with, on a psychotic and torture loving level.
Citadel will not be for everyone; it might not be for anyone, and the idea that it’s just a rinse and repeat of better and more natural predecessors is a concept that could float around in one’s head. There's definitely a pungent aroma of cheese and some replicated James Bond escape scenes (a superimposed ski scene is the pick of the bunch though), some massively on-the-nose dialogue (a homage to previous spy films maybe?) and a couple of stereotypical twin henchmen. There’s a lot that it wants to be and yet, there’s not enough time to harness all that energy – the first three episodes are only 40 minutes in length as well, which also seems like an odd choice, especially considering how clammy it feels.
There’s enough intrigue in Citadel to at least want to keep watching it after the initial few episodes, whether that’s interest to see if it turns into something great or to watch as it crashes and burns, but interest is interest, nonetheless. The first two episodes of Citadel are out now on Amazon Prime, so if you like a bit of organized chaos and a lot of eye candy, then this might just be the new action series for you.
*Rating for episodes 1-3 only (Full season consists of 6 episodes)
Citadel is streaming weekly on Prime Video