By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)
The most exciting part about Episode One of Amazon Prime Video’s spy thriller series is a fancy train the story opens with. Created by Bryan On, Davil Weil and Josh Applebaum, the series follows top spies Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Mason Kane (Richard Madden) who work for an organization called “Citadel” which is supposedly a cut above CIA, FBI and is almost mythical in its status. During a mission, the two are ambushed and their memories wiped out by the nefarious “Manticore,” which destroys the entire Citadel organization. With no memory of the past, the spies face the challenge of fighting a powerful, elitist group that aims to unleash chaos worldwide.
Episode one doesn’t do much to excite viewers about this spy thriller and the action sequences on the train are chaotic, made more annoying by unstable camera-work. But the train, it’s like a luxury hotel on wheels, with stunning window views and it made me think how the 2022 film “Bullet Train” would’ve looked a lot more cooler than it already is if it had a similar setting. Both Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden look dapper as secret operatives, but their banter as Nadia and Mason comes off as excessively pretentious, rather than the cool, sarcastic, and fun dialogue that the writers intended. In-fact, the first time I laughed while watching this series was when episode two was half-way done. It was when Mason Kane tells a colleague “We are two guys in a van with a briefcase. We’re the plot of dumb and dumber.”
It’s only in the second episode, titled “Spies Appear at Midnight,” that the series finally hits its stride. The dialogue is better written, and the plot twists become more entertaining. However, some of the twists are so absurd that it makes one wonder why the writers didn’t go all out for a more exaggerated and entertaining story-line. I am not asking for “Everything Everywhere All At Once” level crazy (although, why not?), but something close. So, while the show doesn’t feature universe-hopping super-villains, Lesley Manville does an excellent job as the aging but shrewd Dahlia Archer, the broker for “Manticore”. However, this sets up high expectations for the real villains, and hopefully, the next few episodes will be more engaging.
You can stream “Citadel” on Amazon Prime.