This review covers the first two episodes of the Amazon Prime series Citadel.
Amazon’s newest spy series Citadel is fun and totally watchable, thanks to a great cast and a fun, high-concept plot setup.
Citadel is the name of an international spy organization that works for the global good, independent of any single nation. Their efforts are thwarted by an evil spy ring called Manticore that has its tendrils in governments around the world.
Citadel agents Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Mason Kane (Richard Madden) — who was destined from birth to be a spy with a name like that — are doing reconnaissance on a train in Italy when they realize they’ve been set up. Manticore blows up the train as part of a coordinated worldwide effort to destroy Citadel once and for all.
Mason survives but has total amnesia, except for visions of a beautiful woman in a red dress: Nadia, wearing the outfit she was wearing on the train. His American passport has an alias, so he doesn’t even know his real name.
Eight years later, Mason has a wife and a daughter, but he’s still troubled by the void of information from his past. When he sends a DNA sample to an ancestry company, it alerts one of Citadel’s surviving operators, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), who tracks down the missing agent and upends his life.
Of course, Nadia survived the train explosion as well, but she doesn’t play a major part again until Episode 2.
The series does a nice job balancing its action, drama, and humor. Tucci’s role is dryly comical and everything one would hope from from Stanley Tucci, The Spy. Madden does a lot of the heavy lifting in the first episode, and he does a very solid job.
From what I’ve seen of Chopra Jonas’s forays in Hollywood to date, they haven’t fully captured what a good actor she is. Citadel does. She gets to showcase a wide emotional range and an impressive set of fighting skills, demonstrating why she is a global star.
The series — which is intended to eventually spin off into global versions set in India, Italy, Spain, and Mexico in languages native to each country — does enough in its early episodes to set up a compelling first season. Bernard gets Mason up to speed while forcing him to resurrect his old career, thereby uncovering the remaining threats to Citadel, its personnel, and the world. It’s a fun setup that balances the personal consequences for the agents with wider, more nebulous dangers that hooked me right away.
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