WHERE Streaming on Prime Video
WHAT IT'S ABOUT With a reported budget of $300 million, the action series "Citadel" represents a big bet for Prime Video.
Created by David Weil, the accomplished talent behind the streaming service's "Hunters" and "Solos," the six-episode effort combines a touch of "The Bourne Identity," a flick of "Mission: Impossible" and a helping of any number of popular police procedurals.
Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star as spies given classic spy names — he's Mason Kane, she's Nadia Sinh — and the organization employing them is called Citadel. This international intelligence agency is devoted toward, uh, doing good or whatever, whereas its counterpart, Manticore, wants to do bad.
Eight years ago, "Citadel fell," as characters keep reminding us, and Mason and Nadia lost their memories. But now things have picked up again, because the Manticore bad guy, Dahlia Archer (Lesley Manville, who deserves so much better), needs a very valuable MacGuffin, and the erstwhile Citadel bigwig, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci, who also deserves better), stands in her way.
MY SAY The mind reels at the thought of spending $300 million for this, a show that looks cheaper than the cheapest basic cable TV program.
Add on a few unwatchable action scenes, incoherent plotting and a lack of world-building that is so comprehensive you can watch three episodes of the six-episode season and still have no real idea what's happening.
One could make a very long list of more worthy investments for this sort of cash, but there's only so much space for this review and only so much time in the day.
It's an incredibly disjointed, pointless effort, without a shred of this enormous investment apparent on-screen and the only real feeling created a general sense of its makers rushing to get things finished.
Suffice it to say that there's so little attention paid to everything from the big picture to the small details that a shot of the Washington Monument and the National Mall is labeled as "Virginia, USA."
Madden and Chopra Jonas seem completely lost, having a hard time getting a grasp on characters who must toggle back and forth between being the accomplished and highly skilled spies they once were and their new selves.
Poor Tucci has to say things like "Manticore is readying for something cataclysmic." Manville spends three episodes doing little but sitting at the end of a fancy table, with a piece of chocolate cake in front of her, while spouting menacing bad-guy dialogue.
There are allusions made to this great big war between Citadel and Manticore, and a general backstory that's not even close to fleshed out as the script jumps from one location to another while darting back and forth in time.
The basic question, then, must be asked: Who is this for? It's not for action fans, or spy series aficionados, or even the "CSI" and "NCIS" crowd.
It's a $300 million TV series for no one.
BOTTOM LINE This is a very, very bad show.