Review: ‘Citadel’

Richard Madden And Priyanka Chopra Jonas Get Their Jason Bourne On In Prime Video's Espionage Series

At this moment, Amazon essentially has the GDP of a small nation, allowing them to take big swings when it comes to content for their Original Programming. They invested almost $1 billion in their Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series last year, and with their newest series, Citadel, they are taking yet another massive swing in regard to investing in their programming. The sci-fi action global thriller Citadel will focus on a secret organization that conducts espionage across the world and airs on Amazon Prime today. Amazon ordered a second season of the show even before it debuted, and because it’s a worldwide thriller, there will be spinoffs in many languages. Within this recently established (hopefully a) franchise, an Indian series and an Italian series are already in production, with the promise of Spanish, Italian, and Mexican productions for the show in the near future. So how is Citadel’s flagship English-language series doing?

The first three episodes of Citadel were provided to critics ahead of today’s premiere and the show has a lot of promise regarding action and intrigue. The time jumps back and forth may prove confusing at first, but once you get oriented to how the narrative of the show works, it’s a bunch of fun. Citadel focuses on Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) in the aftermath of an attack against their clandestine organization by a rival organization called Manticore, who have plans for global domination. The opening action sequence is reminiscent of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Gray Man in regard to expertly filmed fight choreography and fun-yet-disturbing violence (the series is executive-produced by The Russo Brothers, so it makes sense) as Mason and Nadia take on a bunch of bad guys while trying to secure a strain of Ebola that has the transmissibility of Covid before the bad guys and unleash it. However, they were betrayed by someone within their organization. In the aftermath, their train is bombed and the two are presumed dead.

Fast forward 8 years later, Mason is married with a young daughter with no memory of what happened. Turns out each Citadel agent has their memories wiped when compromised (or killed) and they can only get their memories back if they insert some weird liquid in their body which somehow has their memories downloaded from the cloud back into their brains. However, Mason is starting to have weird flashbacks to that fateful night. After his former handler Bernard (Stanley Tucci who once again “understands the assignment” and is awesome) discovers he’s alive, he makes contact for the upmost mission of saving the world from Manticore. Now, of course, Mason doesn’t have memories of being a badass spy, but he does have the instincts. To keep his family safe, he goes with Bernard to try and figure out how to stop Manticore.

In regard to the first 3 episodes of Citadel, Manticore is led by Dahlia Archer (Lesley Manville) who in her day job is a bureaucrat for the British government. But she really is the ruthless mouthpiece for Manticore. Although Lesley Manville is often in roles where she plays a sweet, nice person, here in Citadel, she’s as ruthless as it gets, even so far to threaten a news reporter during a live interview by claiming she’s a Russian agent and saying she will deal with anyone trying to stop her. In her employ is Anders and Davik (two twin brothers played by Roland Møller), who are her ruthless muscle that pretty much kills any and everyone in Manticore’s way. With the news that Mason is alive, it’s a race to eliminate him, which leads to him finding Nadia who is also alive after 8 years.

When Mason links back up with Nadia, it’s back to old times. The two immediately go into kickass mode and fend off countless foes. In fact, each episode so far has an outstanding action sequence showcasing just how awesome the two are as secret agents, even if they don’t have their memories. There are flashback sequences as well that show them going on missions for Citadel and their team-up fight sequences are directed very well. The skiing fight sequence shows exactly why your Prime membership keeps increasing year after year. However, the plot feels like it’s rehashing key elements of The Bourne Identity series as these badass agents don’t really know who they are because their memories were wiped. Even when someone gets their memories back, they still aren’t their old self because so much time has passed that they have a brand-new personality they need to engrain with their old one.

Citadel does have legs though. The action set pieces as well as the intrigue of the plans within plans and eventual double crosses that come with the spy genre are enough to keep the audience engaged. And with the first season consisting of only 6 episodes, it seems like it will be an easy watch to be entertained too. It’ll be interesting to see if audiences of the flagship series will follow the spin-offs in different languages. Time will tell, but Citadel is off to a good start.

Citadel is currently available on Amazon Prime.