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Review: ‘Citadel’ is an Exciting and Ambitious Spy Drama

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Citadel premieres tomorrow with two episodes on Amazon’s Prime Video. Starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra JonasCitadel is an exciting and ambitious espionage drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The show is fast-paced and adrenaline-filled, with stunning action sequences and sexy, well-developed characters. Citadel dials it up to 11, and it is a thrilling, fun, and incredibly addictive show.

Citadel continues Prime Video’s big budget swings for films and movies. Last year, the streamer released the epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, to much ta-dah, particularly among Tolkien fans. Citadel is the $250 million start to the Citadel universe, a universe of interconnected shows set in different countries with actors from those localities. 

[Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the first episode of Citadel!]

What’s going on in Prime Video’s newest hit

Citadel’s premise starts with the idea that secret organizations underpin the world’s safety, security, and, sometimes, insecurity. David Weil, the creative force behind the show, has experience with this type of story. He’s just finished with the conspiracy drama  Hunters, where a secret organization hunted Nazis throughout history after WWII. 

In the series Citadel, the organization named Citadel is one such secret spy organization. Manticore, the villainous organization of the series, is another. 

The show’s opening features a huge dreamy action sequence in the past, where Manticore ruthlessly executes the agents of Citadel across the globe. In the chaos, two elite agents, Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), barely escape with their lives. Their memories of Citadel are wiped clean for their safety with the help of a microchip, and they’re forced to start over with new identities.

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Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Mason Kane (Richard Madden). Citadel (Prime Video).

Manticore is still out there scheming, but so is their old colleague, Bernard Orlick, played by Stanley Tucci. When Kane, now settled and unaware in his new life with a family, pops into an ancestry database after searching for answers, Orlick finds him. It’s perfect timing because Manticore is on the cusp of establishing a new world order, and Orlick needs Kane’s help to stop him. Thus the high-octane journey of the show begins.

Citadel has a talented cast

The cast of Citadel is loaded with talent. The actors have unique strengths and bring their can’t-look-away charisma to the small screen. Richard Madden stars as Mason Kane, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas stars as Nadia Sinh. Stanley Tucci is Bernard Orlick, and Lesley Manville is Dahlia Archer. The rest of the starring cast includes Osy Ikhile as Carter Spence, Ashleigh Cummings as Abby Conroy, Roland Møller as Anders Silje and Davik Silje, and Caoilinn Springall as Hendrix Conroy.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas electrifies as an action heroine in Citadel. The actress, who is a global icon with a successful career in Bollywood and Hollywood, brings her star power and charisma to the role of Nadia. Chopra Jonas is convincing as a spy, who is strong and capable and can kick butt.

She is also a gifted action star, delivering exciting and thrilling, creatively staged fight scenes. There are echoes of the intense action from her role as Alex Parrish on Quantico. Citadel will surely be a must-watch for spy thrillers and action movie fans, and Chopra Jonas is a major reason why.

Stanley Tucci brings a goosebump-raising intensity to the role of Bernard Orlick, who is picking up the pieces after the destruction of Citadel. We spend the first two episodes wondering if he’s actually a good guy. Tucci’s performance is mesmerizing, and he perfectly captures the dark and complex nature of his character eight years after most of his friends and colleagues have been wiped out by Manticore.

Tucci’s portrayal of Orlick telegraphs the gray area that Citadel operates in. There’s a moral ambiguity to the character, and Tucci conveys that expertly. He’s sinister.

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Mason (Richard Madden) and Nadia (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). Citadel (Prime Video).

Richard Madden is magnetic as Mason Kane, a suave spy turned amnesiac family man. Kane is a complex and compelling character with a past, including Nadia, that haunts him. He is also a skilled fighter and an expert in hand-to-hand combat. Madden brings a physicality and intensity to the role that is both captivating and believable.

He is also charming and charismatic, making Kane a character that audiences can root for. Madden’s performance is one of the highlights of Citadel, and it is clear why he has been a popular fan cast for the new James Bond.

Undeniable fireworks

Madden and Chopra Jonas have sizzling chemistry. Their characters’ interactions are electric, with undeniable heat and sparks. It’s sexy, and you can’t help but want to see where it goes. In the first episode, their characters don’t appear to be romantically linked, but it’s clear there’s history there, and that’s all the more exciting. Both actors bring their A-game to the romantic scenes, and they’re clearly having a great time working together.

The first two episodes of Citadel brilliantly set up moral and ethical dilemmas that make good spy moves and shows so much more exciting. 

What do you do when James Bond has a family?

In Citadel, the show explores an interesting ethical dilemma – What do you do when James Bond has a family? After the events on the train where Citadel fell, Mason Kane has amnesia and a passport giving him an identity. Kane spends eight years building a life under that identity, including getting married and having children.

As he starts to rediscover his past as a super-spy, Mason understandably feels torn between his old family and saving the world. The stakes are greater for him, and it’s a delicious, ethical predicament for the show to explore. 

A Complex Villain in Citadel

From what we’ve seen in “The Human Enigma’ and “Spies Appear in the Night-Time”, it appears both Citadel and Manticore are set up to have sympathetic positions as to why they’re doing what they’re doing.  

Manticore as a villain isn’t one-dimensional – they’re not after riches and obsessed with a shiny rock like Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger. Members aren’t twirling mustachioed villains but are complex.

There’s a scene in “The Human Enigma” that best gets this across. A journalist is interviewing the British Ambassador to the US and a Manticore higher-up, Dahlia Archer, played by Lesley Manville. She plainly explains the case of the British government (which is also Manticore’s position because of secret identities!) to the woman interviewing her. She’s stopped wars before they start. Manticore is, in her view, reasonable. It’s a testament to the skill of the writing team behind Citadel that they telegraphed complicated stakes in only one episode. 

For all of the reasons above, Citadel is worth watching. I’m excited to see where the story goes. 

Citadel premieres on April 28th on Prime Video with two episodes. New episodes will release weekly after that. Are you excited to check out the show? Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus or our Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of Ghosted!

Review: Ghosted – A Fun Rom-Com Adventure!


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Ayla Ruby

I am a writer and interviewer based somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. I love all things nerdy - but Star Trek and Spiderman have special places in my heart. Find me at @TulinWrites on Twitter. And visit my other website for more reviews and interviews: movieswetextedabout.com

Ayla Ruby has 170 posts and counting. See all posts by Ayla Ruby