Citadel Pilot Review: Priyanka Chopra Serves In This Sexy, Mostly Enjoyable If Not Utterly Thrilling, Spy Outing

Priyanka Chopra steals the show!
Citadel Pilot Review: Priyanka Chopra Serves In This Sexy, Mostly Enjoyable If Not Utterly Thrilling, Spy Outing

It should be stylish. It should be sexy as hell. And have lots of clever banter between spies, who don’t take themselves too seriously, until it’s time to save the day. When it comes to the espionage genre, I’m easily pleased. Luckily for Citadel, this becomes a swift assignment because it checks the three boxes I hoped it would. Then again, that’s all I can confirm it does for now, in the two episodes that we got to sample, on the big screen during its grand Asia Pacific premiere. In the way of surprising its audience or challenging them, Citadel is yet to live up to the hype around it. The Russo Brothers’ global spy franchise for Prime Video, has David Weil serving as showrunner and stars Priyanka Chopra, Richard Madden, Stanley Tucci, and Lesley Manville, amongst others.

Right off the bat, that’s one sexy-looking show. And the makers know what they have because they turn it on full throttle. The pilot begins with Priyanka Chopra as global spy agency Citadel’s elite agent Nadia Sinh, a total siren in red, on a mission aboard a fancy train. Stanley Tucci as tech genius Bernard Orlick is the negroni-slick voice in her ear, telling her about the cool gadgets he’s put in her purse (very Q from Bond coded), along with an irresistible red lipstick, a woman’s ultimate weapon. When Tucci tells you self-assuring stuff like this, (whether as Orlick or Nigel from TDWP, or Paul Child from Julie & Julia ) you believe. This mission requires Nadia to seduce her target. And I felt bad for the poor fella because he stood no chance.

Then walks in Richard Madden, Citadel’s finest, we are told, and the man has rizz, NGL. His Mason Kane and Nadia clearly have history of the libidinous kind, as you can guess from their banter, right before the action begins. The other kind of action… involving operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate that’s hell-bent on destroying Citadel. Right, this is a spy series. I forgot for a sec.


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When it’s a Russo Bros venture, you’ve got your eyes extra peeled for the action sequences. And as far as first impressions go, it looks good. Only, the more you see it, the more it feels a bit too break-neck, without letting us fully appreciate the skills of the people performing these fights, you know? It’s all a blur, never not stylish, but never slowing down enough to follow which blow struck where, and making you go, “Whoa! He/She did that! That was cool!” It just begins, and in seconds, it’s over, the good guy wins and you’re relieved but not because you were worried if they were gonna make it.

Anyhoo, the mission fails, and Nadia and Kane’s memories are reset, via backstopping, a Citadel protocol that treats its agents’ memories as disposable to protect its interests. The agency is believed to be finished and all its agents dead. Its secrets, ranging from agent identities to nuclear codes, lay ripe for the taking by whoever can unlock them. 8 years later, when Manticore is so close to doing just that, Orlick tracks down Kane and Sinh, now living their new lives, reminds them of who they are, and sets them on a new mission full of secrets, lies, and some of that star-crossed love and chemistry we sense between them.

Also Read: “She Brings Out The Best In Me,” Says Richard Madden About Citadel Co-Star Priyanka Chopra

Now I clearly am baffled by how this memory bit works. How do you extract just the right amount of memories from a person that leaves them a fully functional human who knows how the world works but doesn’t remember their work in the world and their work colleagues? (Asking for a friend, hehehe….) What’s more, how does it all come back with an… injection? No plugging in the brain into some machines or helmet-like device à la Prof. X? Just an injection? Cool beans, if Stanley Tucci is selling it, inject it into my veins, we’ll see if it takes.


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It might look like I am making this way too much about sex appeal, but really, with two episodes, there’s hardly anything else to go on. Citadel rides hard on its cast’s ability to look dynamic on screen, and jump from one exotic location to another, as it builds a world where Citadel and Manticore are a possibility and people really talk a big game. Do I mind it? Not one bit. It’s easy on the eyes which distracts you enough from the accents (if that’s an issue with you, I’ve long learnt to look past it because kab tak will we crib?) or the lack of any high-stakes thrill, because the first two episodes take a mostly predictable route. Things just are a bit too easy for Kane. My girl Nadia, though seems like she had to be slumming it a lot. The second episode shows us Nadia in the aftermath of the failed alpine train mission, and Priyanka Chopra really brings her A game in that sequence.


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Also Read: Priyanka Chopra Glows In A Pink Satin Gown At ‘Citadel’ Promotions

Thankfully, Citadel is never not enjoyable. I say that with relief and gratitude because my memories of the drab The Gray Man, another Russo Brothers outing, were never backstopped. It too had all the raw materials and a sexy cast but failed to entice me beyond Chris Evans’ mildly interesting bad guy. With Citadel, I am engaged and entertained, here for Priyanka Chopra supremacy (which there’s going to be lots of, I can tell), the chemistry between her and Madden, Tucci doing what he does best i.e., witty repartee, and the general sexiness in the air.

I also like the whole ‘Spies Without Borders’ premise, the idea that a few powerful people are behind most of the big numbers done on our world. It’s enough to keep me invested to see how it branches out into other geographies, like the one we’re getting in India, directed by Raj & DK and starring Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Varun Dhawan. But I do hope the next few episodes turn up the drama and give us the thrill and gravitas that’s so far been missing from the show. We’re good on the sexy for now.

Citadel currently has two episodes premiered on Prime Video, with a new episode dropping every Friday. Stay tuned for the full season review!

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Jinal Bhatt

A Barbie girl with Oppenheimer humour. Sharp-tongue feminist and pop culture nerd with opinions on movies, shows, books, patriarchy, your boyfriend, everything.

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