CITADEL. The Russo Brothers are taking over streaming
The Russo brothers have come a long way – from directing unrefined comedies like You, Me and Dupree (2006) to building the highest-grossing universe in the history of cinema. Anthony and Joe, however, do not limit themselves to the big screen, being aware that there are huge money and opportunities today also in streaming. That’s why they undertook to produce the spy blockbuster Citadel, which just debuted on Amazon Prime Video. Here is a review of the first two episodes of the series.
Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Mason Kane (Richard Madden) are a pair of super spies working for the titular spy agency, unrelated to any local government. The Citadel’s mission is to keep the entire human species safe, and one way is to exterminate Eastern Bloc agents like the one Nadia and Mason deal with in the bravura opening sequence. On board a luxury train through the Italian Alps, agents of the Citadel decimate the thugs belonging to the mysterious Manticore, which seems to have the resources and capabilities to put an end to the noble activities of our heroes. Things escalate, sending Citadel agents to the margins of the espionage industry.
This brief summary of the plot may seem trite, but in fact Citadel very efficiently uses the most famous motifs of spy cinema, throwing in elements straight from science fiction movies. The first two episodes of the series leave no doubt that there is a mystery and a spiral of lies behind Nadia and Mason’s story, which will certainly determine the dynamics of their relationship in the later stages of the plot. An element that helps to thicken the plot is the fact that the memories of the pair of main characters were erased – when the action in the Alps fails, Nadia and Mason are “reset”, and their return to the industry is only possible thanks to Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), an extremely experienced tech -a magician who manages to track down Kane and convince him to fight the Manticore. Together, they must find Nadia, try to restore her memories, and pray that it will be enough to take down a powerful crime syndicate.
Here you can feel both Bond and Total Recall, all served in the spectacular and explosive sauce that made the Russo Brothers a success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In terms of production, Citadel is solid and it is clear that it would like to be able to successfully compete with the biggest film blockbusters of this season. No wonder – with a budget of $ 300 million, the Prime Video series is the second most expensive streaming production in history, second only to Rings of Power from … Prime Video. There are no financial constraints in the aforementioned opening sequence in the Alpine train, although demanding viewers will easily find shortcomings – and it would seem that with such a budget the special effects will be impeccable. But Citadel excels in the fight scenes, which are dynamic and very suggestive. The Russo brothers are also not sparing in terms of the dose of violence itself – the corpse is densely littered, and by no means out of the frame.
Citadel is undoubtedly a production with potential, which can be seen from the first scenes. The premiere episodes avoided more serious mishaps (maybe apart from … Madden’s horrendous American accent, which can’t hide his Britishness at all), and also delivered in terms of both production and plot. The setting of the action – although it is difficult to consider it revolutionary – is exemplary and seems to provide a minimum dose of mystery, capable of persuading the viewer to turn on the next episode. This, however, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Citadel is supposedly just the beginning of Amazon’s spy universe, so it may turn out that we are dealing with one of the most interesting streaming offers this year. And who knows, maybe even one of this year’s more interesting blockbusters without screen size? Time will tell.