Citadel Vs Manticore
Citadel, starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas in the lead, is a Russo Brothers spy action thriller series created by Josh Appelbaum, Bryan Oh, and David Weil. With a budget of $300 million, Citadel is one of the most expensive TV series ever made, with worldwide spinoffs to be produced in various countries, including India. The question is, does it live up to its multimillion-dollar hype?
Citadel is a global spy agency loyal to no state or country, ostensibly working only for the collective good of humankind. Stanley Tucci (The Terminal) as Bernard Orlick plays the tech genius in Citadel. He is at the helm of this “selfless” fellowship of spies, which has shaped every major event over the last century. Manticore is Citadel’s antithesis, another international and unaffiliated agency, but supported by the wealthiest (criminal) families and devoted to increasing their wealth and power at any cost.
Around the world with our desi girl
The series stars Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Citadel agents Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh. The two agents look lithe and limber in the opening scene on a deluxe train hurtling through the Italian Alps. A throwback to Murder on the Orient Express. Priyanka looks gorgeous and dressed to kill in her figure-hugging red silk dress and hibiscus red lipstick. As the two converse in English, Mandarin, German, and Spanish, it is quickly revealed that the spies have been lured onto the train by Manticore. So we get what we’ve been waiting for – an action-packed scene with lots of kicking, punching, raining bullets and a spectacular explosion.
Kane and Sinh, presumed dead, resurface after eight years with their memories wiped out, Bollywood-style. But when Bernard Orlick learns that Kane is alive, he abducts Kane and his family to protect them from Manticore’s top agent Dahlia Archer (Lesley Manville).
That pesky, missing memory!
And now the plot begins to tie us up in knots. Mason Cane (Kyle Conroy after his memory loss) is at a loss about his identity. Orlick reveals Kyle’s past life as a spy and persuades him to help retrieve a secret briefcase to keep its potentially world-altering contents out of Manticore’s hands.
Bernard tells Mason that another agent is alive and will join him on his mission.
This sets the stage for the reentry of Nadia Sinh. She is all about fewer words and more action, as she rescues the injured Mason Cane. Amid explosions, helicopter chases, parachute getaways, and physiologically-impossible computer-generated action sequences, Nadia reveals to Mason that they have a daughter together.
Low on story, high on action
An unbelievable plot notwithstanding, Citadel does not disappoint in action. It takes us on a rollercoaster ride through Virginia, Morocco, Switzerland, New York City, Chicago, Utah, Spain, Italy, and Iran without much of a storyline. Citadel wants us to believe, as Bernard Orlick says, “Everything you know is a lie.”
Priyanka looks the part – a spy with multiple identities and no solid footing. Her mother was a spy and was her father a terrorist? Bits of her soul emerge as she holds her baby daughter, Asha, and sings “gudia rani, bitiya rani” under her breath. But it is too scattered. Too splintered. As is the look in Mason’s eye. Is he in love with Nadia? What about his (Kyle Conroy’s) wife and daughter?
Citadel is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. If you love plot-driven stories, this is not for you. But it is still worth a watch to see desi girl Priyanka Chopra Jonas in action.