CITADEL Review: Sleek, Slick, Slack
Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Lesley Manville and Stanley Tucci star in the action series from Joe and Anthony Russo, debuting on Prime Video.
Effortless to watch, difficult to recall.
The first two episodes debut Friday, April 28, on Prime Video worldwide. Subsequent episodes will debut weekly. I've seen the first three episodes.
Glossy action movies remind me of glossy fashion magazines back in the day: eye-catching and entirely disposable. (As you could confirm if you ever saw my style of dress in person.)
The latest action enterprise from executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo, Citadel introduces sparring spies Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas -- their character names hardly matter -- on a speeding train as their latest mission goes bad, many guns are fired, many things explode, and a giant fireball presumably kills everyone on board, including the spies, which, of course, we know isn't true, because then who would star in this silly series?
Rather than develop into anything more than an excuse for action, Citadel exists to showcase two very good-looking stars as they
slowly instantly recover their memories; it just takes an injection of some mumbo-jumbo serum and then whoosh! Their secret identities are restored and they have regained all the physical action skills they lost eight years before, when the fireball train explosion supposedly killed them, but, of course, it didn't.
The mumbo-jumbo chemistry contained in the injections is equivalent to the mumbo-jumbo chemistry that fails to spark between Madden and Chopa Jonas, though, inevitably, clothing will be seductively tossed off-camera and sheets will be pulled up to modest chins to suggest that the two did something beneath them that needs to be hidden from view.
Of course, it didn't! That fits with the model of James Bond films that serve as the same inspiration for all action-spy movies over the past six decades. It's one of the sturdier tropes to copy, along with the hard-driving bosses who whisper in the ears of their subordinates, whenever they're not yelling at them.
In Stanley Tucci and Lesley Manville, Citadel features two very good actors who are very good as the kind of bosses who can be your best friend one moment and your worst nightmare the next. In the fantasy world of spy movies, they also have no compunction about murdering people, one after the next, if need be -- and there's always a need.
Sleek and slick, the series is filled with outrageous action scenes that are never terribly involving, served up with salty dialogue that is all salt, no meat. David Weil serves as showrunner, which doesn't surprise; his past work (Hunters, Solos, Invasion) undercooked good premises with weak characterizations.
Weil is very good, though, at coming up with many outrageous ideas for outrageous action sequences that blow past logic and go straight through to lunacy. Citadel functions best as a showcase for the silly action stuff, which may be sufficient for some to sit back and savor.