Citadel: Pure Escapism Television
*Spoilers ahead: This is a profile of the first three episodes of "Citadel" on Amazon Prime Video
"Your mind may not remember but your body does."
From the action-packed opening sequence aboard an international train headed for impending disaster, "Citadel" sinks its teeth into the spy genre primarily seen in a big-budgeted Doug Liman film. Think "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "The Bourne Identity," and the "Mission: Impossible" franchise. All these movies created a game of modern espionage on screen, and Amazon Prime Video appears to be a new player.
The train scene in the new show's first episode introduces a few characters integral to the show's plot: actor Richard Madden as super spy Mason Kane, Priyanka Chopra Jonas as his counterpart Nadia Sinh, and Stanley Tucci as tech expert Bernard Orlick. All three characters are part of an elite spy agency globally recognized for its mythical presence and legendary individuality. They are members of Citadel, and their mission is to stop those that mean the world harm. Starting in the 1930s, Citadel has helped to shape every major event in the world's history for the betterment of its global citizens. They are not loyal to one country or one person.
While attempting to unmask an organization eager to take down Citadel agents, events transpire, derailing the train. Many of the passengers meet their maker while few survivors emerge. Mason is one of those survivors, but his memory has been wiped, and he assumes a different identity.
The show fast-forwards eight years, and Mason is now a family man living in the American suburbs. With no memory of who he was prior to eight years ago, he experiences visions of Nadia and their past life together. And just like that, Bernard emerges in Mason's life again, this time to bring Citadel back to its former glory and take down a menacing crime syndicate known as Manticore. To do this, Mason's memories are restored, and they locate Nadia, who somehow also survived the train crash.
Like any good international spy thriller, "Citadel" quickly jumps worldwide. In the first three episodes, Italy, Virginia, New York City, Spain, Utah, Iran, and Britain feature heavily as landscapes for Mason and Nadia's exploits. Of course, the series is produced by the Russo brothers, so this is just par for the course for their brand of action-packed extravagance.
Flashbacks to before the train derailment aid the series, accompanied by sardonic humor from Tucci that balances the drama between the leads. While the first episode largely focuses on Mason's trajectory, the second episode gives more detail from Nadia's point of view. By the third episode, audiences are left with more questions than answers, but the series seems to start with a cloud of mystery and secrets at the heart of the action. Mason and Nadia's relationship is further explored while the technical achievements of a big-budgeted series play out in the background.
Everyone has a secret. Nothing. and no one, is what they appear to be on the surface level. "Citadel" is pure escapism television, much like "24" in its absurdity traversing through government agencies on a global scale. Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are white hot leads in a show that supposedly will spawn several spin-offs set in the Italian Alps, India, Spain, and Mexico in the future. This is thanks to the enormous budget that Amazon has granted the Russo brothers and faith in a concept similar to Paul Verhoeven's "Total Recall." To cap it all off, Lesley Manville portrays a convincing bureaucratic villain opposite Stanley Tucci. Both actors look like they are having the time of their lives with their characters.
"Citadel" will run the first two episodes in its initial season on Amazon Prime Video starting April 28th, with four episodes remaining that will drop weekly through May 26th.