Citadel opens with the promise of a wild ride. The camera spirals slowly through a train car focusing on a gorgeous spy named Nadia Sinh, played by Priyanka Chopra, en route to the Italian Alps through a non-descript European landscape.
Nadia watches the landscape speed by as she speaks through an earpiece to Bernard, played by Stanley Tucci, who seems to give her orders from an undisclosed location that we’ll find out more about later.
The spy eyes her target, but before she can proceed, she is intercepted by Mason Kane, played by a dashing Richard Madden, who, through flirtatious banter, we find is her former partner—and lover — and on the train to partner with her once again (at least professionally) to get information from a scientist who has uranium for sale. Nadia will care for the scientist while Mason roughs up the scientist’s bodyguard.
We quickly discover that this is a setup by Manticore – an organization put into place to rid the world of the last remaining spies of Citadel. Mason and Nadia do battle with the enemy, call Bernard for backup, and then boom — the train explodes but not before the spies/lovers admit that they’ve lied to each other — about what, it’s unclear and so kicks off a multifaceted mystery — who is Citadel, what is their purpose and what made these lovers lie to each other?
In the next scene, Mason wakes up in the hospital with a passport identifying him as Kyle Conroy. Suddenly, eight years pass, Bernard finds Kyle, the spies get back together, and we’re off again to fight Manticore.
In the second episode, we are treated to Nadia’s flashback – she too wakes up in a hospital, only she’s being held captive. Breaking free, she’ll eventually run into Mason, but this time, her previous spying partner won’t recognize her.
Amazon spent nearly $300 Million on this series, which shows that the cast bears the charisma needed to propel a spy thriller, although the banter sometimes feels staid. After all, this spy thriller shouldn’t be too deep.
The first two episodes of the 6-part series move as fast as a bullet train moving through the Italian countryside, and it is clear from the start that we should buckle up. The fight scenes will be spectacular and violent, the spies will be offputtingly gorgeous (as well they should be — a la Bond), and if we let ourselves, we can hunker down for big screen-style blowups on a streaming screen. Every character is over-the-top, from Nancy Manville’s downright diabolical yet grandmotherly villain to Tucci’s manipulative Bernard. The flirtation between spies Chopra and Madden is enough for us to tune in for the rest of the series.
Our verdict? If it’s a sexy, sleek international spy thriller you crave, Citadel is for you.