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Citadel Review

Citadel is the latest action-spy thriller to grace Prime Video. Clocking in at just six episodes, this latest series executive produced by the Russo Brothers’ AGBO looks enticing. With flashy visuals, tight-boxed action sequences, and a cast dialing into the over-the-top story points thrown at them, it has the makings of comfort food watching. As in, not necessarily great, but it satisfies the soul’s inner cravings.

Starting the series with one of too many tilt shots, Citadel thrusts us eight years into the past. We’re introduced to Citadel’s elite agents Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) on a train in Italy for a mission. The sexual tension between them is high, and no time is wasted establishing their relationship before things go awry.

Citadel Review

As learned by Nadia, Citadel has been compromised and the mission — in fact — was a trap to lure both her and Mason out for Manticore, a seedy elite organization, to take them out. Cue some fiery explosions, sharp plummets, and memory loss, and you have the set up for Mason Kane’s dilemma when he wakes up. No longer knowing who he is, he tries to rebuild a life and settle down.

Eight years after the events of that explosive night, Manticore is on the hunt for something disastrous. Mason’s resumed search for answers to his identity leads former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), finding him. Under the guise of protecting his family, Mason gets roped back into the game when Bernard makes him a proposition.

Citadel Review

In the process, Mason seeks out the woman who has been haunted his dreams. Presumed dead, Nadia has been living on her own for some time. Mason’s re-appearance in her life brings danger but, once reunited with her memories, the two embark on their multinational mission to take down Manticore once and for all.

Based on the first three episodes provided, it’s difficult to say whether Citadel will crumble or stand tall. It checks off key spy-thriller tropes that will have viewers grasping at the déjà vu that hits them. There’s just enough added into plot points to give it something new. However, the additional fresh bits also lend to a feeling of chaos for the sake of chaos.

Citadel Review

While the plot moves forward, halfway into the season, there is an issue of pacing. Going back and forth between timelines to fill in the gaps in info helps to an extent but can drag out the present-day forward action plot.

Spending the first two episodes establishing Citadel‘s premise may also end up doing more harm than good in the long term given the short episode order. Will they manage to wrap the season tightly in just six episodes? Time will tell.

Citadel easily camouflages the bulk of its issues with its shiny visual aesthetics. With characters traveling to various locations, you easily get the feeling of how wide a net our characters live in. The usage of language, particularly by Nadia, adds to that mystique and helps with the immersion.

The cast too does a lot of the heavy lifting here. Richard Madden channels his inner Jason Bourne, grappling with his memory loss whilst simultaneously falling into the familiar action hero routine. There’s a particular moment where Tucci’s Bernard is coaching Madden’s Mason that allows Madden to lean into comedy.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas has the more compelling character in her Nadia. She’s wrapped in layers of mystery that easily set her up as an unreliable ally to Mason. The chemistry she ignites with Madden is dynamite, and her handling of the action sequences makes her Nadia a believable combatant. Honestly, for the remaining three episodes, I’m more invested in her storyline than Mason’s.

Tucci slides into familiar witty one-liner territory with Bernard. His presence provides much needed lightness. That said, the weakness of the dialogue reads a little easier when Tucci delivers it. Most likely because the dialogue given is the most unserious. He’s there to fill a specific element and he does it well.

Lesley Manville‘s Dahlia Archer is fitting into a more stereotypical spy villain role. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but, within the first three episodes, it’s hard to find the nuance in the character. Manville is doing as delivered with her diabolical Archer, but the character seems sketched out rather than fully dimensional.

While Citadel is beautifully shot and fills in the void for action-spy thrillers temporarily, it fails to fully excite. Its shiny exterior fails to truly explore under the surface despite the reveals in the series’ first half. That doesn’t make it unenjoyable, but it does render it forgettable at times.

If you are a fan of James Bond or the Jason Bourne franchise, Citadel may be the series for you. It hits all the hallmark spy genre notes, and its cast is game for whatever gets thrown at them. A comfort food type of viewing for the lover of action-spy thrillers.


Citadel premieres on Prime Video on Friday, April 28, with new episodes released weekly every Friday through May 26.