A High-Octane, Exotic Sci-Fi Thriller
Prime Video’s Citadel is allegedly the second most expensive TV series of all time, and after watching it, you can see why they spent so much money. With exotic locations like the Italian alps, Moroccan deserts, and Eugene, Oregon, and pyrotechnic-heavy action set-pieces, this six-part sci-fi thriller is the type of show that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
However, the extensive reshoots and showrunner changes from Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum to David Weil due to creative differences with uber-producers The Russo Brothers resulted in a muddled plot that resembles a slicker, glossier version of The Blacklist rather than the elevated cinematic spectacle everyone was aiming for.
Describing “Citadel” feels unnecessary – it offers nothing original to the spy thriller genre. The story revolves around an international organization tackling Cold War-era threats, including loose nuclear weapons. The two lead agents, Mason (Richard Madden) and Nadia (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), share a predictable sexual tension conveyed through lackluster banter. They are aided by a wise-cracking tech expert who rarely appears on-screen. Meanwhile, they must face off against a stereotypical posh, ice-cold Brit played by Stanley Tucci, and a cookie-cutter Lesley Manville. Only Tucci and Manville appear to recognize the silliness of their roles, hamming it up accordingly. If only the show itself shared their sense of humor.
Despite the predictable and well-trodden storyline involving two independent global networks with opposing world views, a former spy with retrograde amnesia, another forced out of action, and an imminent threat involving nuclear codes, the central quartet elevates it with their enthusiasm for their respective roles. Richard Madden particularly shines as the solid square-jawed leading man coming to terms with a past that retrograde amnesia has been hiding from him for eight years. His wife’s incredulous disbelief of his newfound spy skills adds some comedic relief to the tension-filled show.
With a second season green-lit and spin-offs in the works set in different countries and languages, Citadel’s success is of utmost importance to Prime Video. The production’s scale is impressive, but it is actors like Manville and Tucci who will ensure this show remains closer in style and modern-day relevance to the Mission: Impossible movie franchise than the 1960s TV series.
FF Ratings: **
By Bhumika Rawat