Citadel review: Priyanka Chopra is the best thing about Prime Video's expensive but average new series

Apr 27, 2023 07:48 PM IST

Citadel review: Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden's new series is sadly not attractive enough to justify building an entire universe of this.

Dressed in stunning outfits or musty rags, Priyanka Chopra owns every frame that she appears in in Citadel, Amazon Prime Video's enormous new investment. She is a delight to watch, hear and witness as she pulls off crisp action sequences or speaks with the sultry voice of a siren. But despite her best efforts, the show still seems lacking. In parts, everything seems fine enough: from the actors' performances to a fairly simple plot, from slick action choreography to extravagant sets and locations. Yet, the sum of these parts never rises above getting an average score.

Citadel review: Priyanka Chopra plays 'tier 1 spy' Nadia Sinh in the Prime Video series.
Citadel review: Priyanka Chopra plays 'tier 1 spy' Nadia Sinh in the Prime Video series.

The first two episodes of the show, made available for the purpose of this review, focus on giving a lick of all the action, explosions and secrets coming your way in the series. An espionage drama the likes of which we have seen many times before, Citadel is unable to find a distinct heart in the early parts. There is nothing specially new about the silly spy tech, the retrograde amnesia, the nuclear codes in a briefcase, or the villain barking orders to her henchmen. Of course, two episodes might be too early to judge considering this show and executive producers Russo Brothers have far bigger, universe-building aspirations that branch out to sister-shows in India and Italy. But sadly, the first impression is that Citadel has a generic network TV quality to it that kept giving me Quantico flashbacks.

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Citadel is about a organisation of spies working for the very vague ‘good’ of the world, snubbing wars before they happen and bringing warmongers to justice. Two shiniest spies of this organisation are Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and her partner Mason Kane (Richard Madden). When Citadel is attacked by an insider and its spies are wiped out, Nadia and Mason lose their memories and spend 8 years away from murder and mayhem until fate and a black briefcase bring them together again. While the storyline was rather linear in the first two episodes, we can expect a bigger shuffle and some more confusion as the series progresses, lies and secrets are unearthed and backs get stabbed (literally and metaphorically).

In between all this are impressive action pieces, some more memorable than others. For instance, a tied and tattered Priyanka slashing through a pervert is far more exciting to watch than maybe her swinging guns around on a very CGI-looking train. Her getting slammed into dinner tables by a goon and getting charged up to fight back is more easily retained than watching Richard shove a man in a toilet. She is undeniably good as an action hero and keeps the tone right for lighter scenes but when it’s time to act cool or flirty, she kind of overdoes it still. Richard, meanwhile, does what he is supposed to. There is not much nuance to his Mason Kane, a very simple guy next door who happens to be a spy. There is little here that will remind you of his broody self from Bodyguard.

Citadel is being called one of Amazon Prime Video's most expensive shows ever made and so far, all that money doesn't seem to have been put to good use. A stale plot with age-old tropes seen plenty times before, there is little to attract you to this series, let alone pave the way for more versions in Hindi and Italian.

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    Soumya Srivastava is Entertainment Editor at Hindustan Times. She writes about movies and TV because what else is there to life anyway.

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