WARNING: do not continue reading if you do not want to read spoiler are Citadel
The first season of Citadelthe new ambitious project by Prime Video for which they were allocated something like three hundred million dollars. Three hundred. Like the Spartans led by Leonidas. But the comparison ends there.
The first two episodes were released on April 28th, Citadel immediately gave the impression of something that could have been but unfortunately was not splitting the critics and the public in two. A confirmation received episode after episode up to the last in which, despite a couple of twists and turns that are not such if you carefully follow the clues left around by the authors, the foundations have already been laid for the second season (the series was renewed even before the first episode aired). Waiting for the spin offas announced by the Russo brothers, on the occasion of the Roman presentation of the series they produce.
One moment, one moment. We said the Russo brothers? I Russo Brothers? Anthony and Joe Russo? The directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) e Avengers: Endgame (2019)? Just them. Them and three hundred million dollars. Yes, we realize it, we are monomaniacs. On the other hand, after The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power cost 450 million, do the reckoning in your pocket a Prime Video is essential to make an honest review of this first season.
The origins of this mammoth work date back to well before the pandemic when Jennifer Salke, CEO of Amazon Studiosapproached the Russo Brothers to create a grand spy story in style Avengers. Initially the project was entrusted to Josh Appelbaum (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Tartarughe Ninja e Zoo) paired with his lifelong friend and colleague, André the German. The latter seems to have abandoned the project due to unspecified creative differences with the Russo brothers. He took his place David Weil (already creator of the unfinished Hunters with the wonderful Al Pacino) who took over the reins of the project, increasing the costs.
There have been other changes in key roles, such as that of the director. The project, in fact, had been entrusted to Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones e Penny Dreadful) but he too preferred to abandon leaving everything in the hands of the director of photography in charge, Thomas Sigel (Photographer by X-Men: Apocalisse, Bohemian Rhapsody e Da 5 Bloods – Like brothers) which, it seems had to re-shoot entire scenes.
In short, as a premise Citadel it seems quite unfortunate. It must be said that often these huge projects for the platforms on demand they have many problems in production due to the inexperience of the clients who think excessively big, Hollywood style, calling directors, executive producer and, last but not least, important players without really knowing the subject they have to deal with.
In any case, after a great threshing media style Marvel Cinematic Universe, Citadel made his debut as one of the most watched ever on Prime Video.
Mason Kane, played by Richard Madden (Game of Thrones e Bodyguard), is Nadia Sinh, interpretata da Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico), are top secret agents of an autonomous agency called Citadel capable of operating all over the world to solve the usual crises. The two agents find themselves on a train in the middle of the Italian Alps to carry out their mission, which will prove to be their last. They will realize, unfortunately, that they have been betrayed is that Manticorean opposing agency, is putting in place a plan to dismantle Citadel killing all of its agents and destroying all bases of operations.
Eight years after the initial events Mason lives in the woods, in the United States, with a wife and daughter. But he completely ignores his past having lost his memory with the train derailment. He receives a visit from Bernard (the legendary Stanley Tucci, a bit subdued) who seems to know him well. Bernard kidnaps Mason and his family, reveals his past and convinces him to return to the field to save the world again.
However, it is not only Mason who has lost his memory but also Nadia who now lives in Valencia and works as a restaurateur. When Mason reaches her to convince her to join him to complete her mission, the two have no memory that unites them. They look like complete strangers although, through you continue flashback, we discover that they were actually lovers. And perhaps even much more.
The story proceeds forward interspersed with episodes even thirty years away in time. And it is thanks to these intervals that we manage to find out who the two secret agents are, why they separated and who planned and carried out the destruction of Citadel.
No one can be trusted in this six-part series. Friends are traitors and traitors will eventually lend a hand, as in any self-respecting spy series. So why, at the end of the sixth episode, does it remain in our mouths a slightly sweet and sour aftertaste?
Why Citadel it could have been more. Indeed, with the three hundred million budget it should have been more. And yet it is nothing more than a cocktail made with ingredients taken from James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mission: Impossible and many other cinematographic films of the kind that have cheered and amused, thrilled and satisfied us in the last thirty years.
Obvious that the product is well made having taken here and there, do not mention it. But he does the union minimum, just to have enough. And there is nothing original. Nothing new. Indeed, the only interesting thing, the only starting point that would have been intriguing to carry forward, the memory leak problem (but not that of the body, this is also interesting), is solved with a simple injection and over the course of one episode everything is already settled, solved.
This leaves room for the usual things, leaving the viewer with the continuous and unpleasant sensation of already seen. There is the love storyimpossible and painful, style soap opera South American; there is the handsome agent in skimpy clothes and fiery lipstick that kills everyone without firing a shot; there is the super macho stile man who must never ask, beautiful and cursed. There is the villain of the moment who has to make amends to a wrong suffered and fails despite the efforts made; there is the faithful squire (poor Stanley, really wasted!) who knows one thing more than Bertoldo; there are nuclear missiles, guns, knives, explosions. Here, perhaps there is a lack of cars. On the other hand there is the plane of the X-Men and lots of combat suits. And there is, alasa CGI that in certain situations seems to stand by a miracle.
Paraphrasing Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo: “three hundred million for this stuff here? My carpenter with thirty thousand did it better. Va’ doesn’t even have nails“. Fortunately we are not talking about Art with a capital A, even if listening to David Weil it seems we are dealing with a Masterpiece, with a capital C. Citadel it is not. Not even close. Unlike other such products, FUBAR above all because it came out at the same time and belongs to the competitiontakes itself too seriously, unfortunately, even turning out to be a caricature in spite of itself, because it exploits cliché not only of the genus but also of the location where is it filmed (Fred Buscaglione as soundtrack on the Italian train in 2023? The Måneskin cost too much?).
More was expected. Much more. And the disappointment is great, above all for how the product was presented to us. Of course we will look at the spin-off (in particular the Italian one with Matilda De Angelis) waiting to see the story concluded between Citadel vs Manticorehoping that we don’t procrastinate excessively. That would really be the coup de grace.