Director: Newton Thomas Sigel
Cast: Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Stanley Tucci, Lesley Manville
Citadel, a century-old organisation, maintained relative peace in the world, till one amongst them betrayed their own, making it fall into chaos. The supposed ‘angels’ aka ‘agents’ have fallen and been replaced by a rival agency, Manticore, which harbours devious plans.
Amazon Original series Citadel finds its lead pair in Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, playing international operatives Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh, respectively. The series opens with a stunning train sequence in the Italian Alps. The formidable duo is cornered, mission compromised and the train in flames. They supposedly perish just like most of their elite mates — Vishal Raj in Mumbai, Tanaka in Tokyo and tech teams in Mexico City, Milan, Paris and Cairo. Their memories are backstopped — that is erased as a preventive measure!
Eight years on, the evil Manticore gets details on the Citadel X case, which has all important information, including agent identities, black site information and important nuclear codes. Mason and Nadia have survived; they are living their new identities. Mason now has a wife and daughter, but suffers from ghosts of the past. An effort to reconnect with the past leads him to the handler Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), a Citadel member, who has got intelligence on Manticore’s nefariousdesigns. In comes Nadia, living in Valencia, Spain, and the battle between good and bad begins once again.
Slick and stylish, Citadel’s first two episodes build interest. The global spy thriller is an ambitious project with its universe spread across different regions — its Indian and Italian instalments already being shot.
But first, what we already have. No newcomer to action, with Don and Quantico to her credit, PeeCee looks like a dream and moves stupendously in action sequences, whether it’s hand-to-hand combat, flying kicks or taking an aim. ‘Do I look like a woman who plays for the minor leagues,’ she says, mocking CIA and MI6. Dressed in red and black, she is stunning; finding the perfect partner in Madden. As Orlick says, together they are ‘hot stuff’. Madden delivers excellent action sequences on the train. The one in particular in the lavatory has been shot brilliantly. He’s charming and gets into the shoes of a super spy rather comfortably.
The first two episodes take one across the globe, right from the war-ravaged Serbia to the splendid Grand Canyon. Production design and CGI are superlative with befitting sound by Alex Belcher — level it to the reportedly staggering 300 million budget! Russo Brothers’ expansive outing sure comes in with full spy trope — lies and deceit masking reality, super agents with slick devices, familiar sights and more. One wishes they spelled ‘Sinh’ right though!
Lesley Manville as Dahlia Archer, the sinister UK ambassador, does well. Stanley Tucci as handler Bernard Orlick provides her just the right competition. He’s commanding and gets witty dialogues throughout — ‘Why would you trust me? I am exceedingly untrustworthy. I am a spy.”
The show is not sheer action, but drama to a large proportion. It’s funny in bursts too. Extravagant and expansive, Russo Brothers’ global spy extravaganza treads the staple spy tropes and yet entertains.
(Streaming on Amazon Prime)