All hail Amazon, king of dad TV. Its latest new series, Citadel, follows in the footsteps of action thrillers Jack Ryan, Reacher and Terminal List.
Amazon made a significant investment in Citadel, one of our top picks for what to watch this weekend. It reportedly has a budget of $300 million (second only to their behemoth fantasy epic Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power). Several international spinoffs are already in the works.
Yet despite the massive amount of money, the participation of producers Anthony and Joe Russo and a cast filled with recognizable stars, Citadel is struggling in certain places. The show currently has a woeful 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though the audience score is better at 86%. Oh, and it's already hit the No. 1 spot on Prime Video's top 10 list for shows and movies.
So, is Citadel worth watching or not? Let's break it down.
What is Citadel about?
Eight years ago, The Citadel was an independent global spy agency tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people. Agents and ex-spouses Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) team up on a mission to intercept a deadly virus.
But the Citadel falls, after one of their own betrays them to the international crime syndicate Manticore. Eight years later, Mason and Nadia Sinh have no memories of their identities and are living regular, separate lives ...
Until Mason is tracked down by a former colleague (Stanley Tucci), who needs his help to prevent Manticore from triggering a world war. But they don't know who to trust and
Citadel takes pages from some of the most successful action spy franchises in entertainment. It's got globe-trotting and sexy intrigue like James Bond; stunts and gadgets like Mission: Impossible; and the amnesia and kinetic fights of The Bourne Identity.
Citadel reviews: What critics and audience members say
Critics and audiences are divided in their opinions on Citadel. The show has a RT score of just 53% (based on 32 reviews), contrasted to an 86% audience score.
The critics range from dismissive of the show's blandness to lukewarm to somewhat positive.
CNN's Brian Lowry writes, "The time-bending plot certainly won’t earn many points for originality, but it’s the kind of meat-and-potatoes series that should find an attentive audience on Amazon."
Daniel Fienberg at The Hollywood Reporter says, "Whatever its initial ambition happened to be, Citadel is just innocuously basic."
The Daily Beast's Nick Schager writes, "Citadel is the definition of generic, trading in stock espionage clichés dressed up with superficial embellishments in a manner not unlike the Russos’ The Gray Man."
The Guardian's Lucy Mangan is more upbeat, calling it "televisual crack."
And Martin Robinson at the London Evening Standard declares, "It won’t win any awards but so what? This is pure Saturday night fun of a super-slick kind."
Citadel: Stream or skip?
With its mix of espionage intrigue and action, Citadel is pure popcorn fare. It's the perfect show for anyone who wants to watch something fun without thinking too hard. My dad will love it. Yours probably will, too.
Madden and Chopra Jonas are appealing performers who share palpable chemistry. Tucci is, well ... he's Stanley Tucci! He steals the show, of course, because when has he not?
Being labeled unoriginal and "basic" isn't all that terrible. We all like 007, Bourne, Mission: Impossible, Jack Ryan, etc. Cribbing from them may demonstrate a lack of imagination, but not a lack of taste. Like some critics noted, Citadel could make for a great weekend evening of entertainment at home. Bring out the snacks, get comfy on the couch and enjoy an hour or two of mindless diversion.