The life of a secret agent can be really complicated. You could be driving on the road with a colleague/friend, and suddenly a bullet could come and hit you in the back. Today, you might be helping someone steal an object from a high-security place. After three days, you might find yourself getting tortured in a chair. Of course, one cannot ignore the fact that you could also suffer from amnesia after sustaining heavy wounds during a high-stakes mission. You see, the life of a spy can be very unpredictable. They never know what could happen to them in the next moment. Their whole world is always on the verge of turning upside down, and their situation could spin out of control any second. Perhaps, that's why the camera in Citadel often turns upside down or has to spin to align itself to a proper position.
The series, starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, is light on its feet and eminently watchable. The action sequences get the basic cut-closeup treatment, which takes out some amount of adrenaline from them. But they are executed with enough competence as they never look like an incomprehensible mess. Look how effortlessly someone walks in and out of a building or how smoothly a character catches a gun with one hand. The action in Citadel comes bearing elegance, but you wish it had a little suspense. You never feel the characters are in any real danger. An X-Case retrieval mission would have been much better if it had a little tension. But Citadel is devoted to razzle-dazzle, and it's further evident during a scene set in a snowy mountain where we merely see chases and gun fires and not whatever Mason (Madden) did inside a structure.
Madden's expressions are limited. He is suave and deferential and passes off these qualities as acting here. Anyway, that's all the show demands from this actor. In the three episodes provided for review, Madden fleetingly smiles and uses his taut face to charm the audience. Jonas looks impossibly seductive in a red dress and carries herself with assurance as if she is aware of her sensual powers and the entrancing effect it has on everyone. She and Madden look sexy together, making it easy for us to buy into their love-at-first-sight romance. Stanley Tucci seems to be having a lot of fun. He makes you smile without putting in much effort. For more amusement, check out that scene where a man casually takes out his gun and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, get the fuck out of here." I chuckled when Nadia (Jonas) stabbed someone and immediately apologized for her actions. However, the best joke here is the one where a specific method is repeated to remind someone of their past.
The CGI is average and looks horrible in some places for a few seconds. But that doesn't mean this is a soulless corporate product. Citadel is made with some dedication, unlike, say, The Gray Man, which was too lazy to care about anything or anyone. The story moves ahead with an airy momentum, keeping things pleasurable. The three episodes do not have any flab, so they have a tight structure and a clear sense of direction. Some twists are shocking, some predictable, but they all are good and make you yell, "Okay, let's see what happens next!"
It's too early to pass a verdict on Citadel. The final three episodes could either be an improvement or a disaster, à la Ms. Marvel. But if the show can at least manage to stay on the current level, we would get a decent spy thriller.
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