Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new English series Citadel which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. I am not into a lot of English and foreign webseries(given the investment of time), but Citadel had been making all the right noises at the time of its release. For starters, it did star Priyanka Chopra and I was really looking forward to watching her in a full blown high octane avatar. Secondly, there was an announcement of its Hindi adaptation starring Samantha and Varun Dhawan in the lead, thus prompting me to be assured of a stellar product. And what’s more was that the series wasn’t too long, running for just 6 episodes!
The decision of Amazon Prime to release weekly episodes is not new for a foreign show. It might be a trend which has been successful for various shows across the globe. But for that to happen, the content needs to be powerful. The excitement levels were at its absolute peak when the OTT giant dropped its first two episodes. Post the Pathaan wave, this new spy thriller was the talk of the town. But with each passing week, the excitement levels continued to dip, upto a point where no one really is talking about the show even in the West! I had to complete the formalities, and here are my two cents on the show Citadel.
Story & Screenplay
The first season of Citadel follows the story of a spy agency Citadel which has fallen with its agents wiped out. Can the protagonists prevent the slide and resurrect the agency? The premise here is interesting but in its entirety the story is so done to death with, that I did wonder as to how this show was green lit in the first place. The screenplay standing at 6 episodes of 30 odd to 40 odd minutes does guarantee you a quick watch but it is just so campy and banal that it make for one of the dullest spy thrillers that I have watched in a very long time.
The drama does open on an interesting note with the elaborate train sequence resulting in ambush. The events are straight out of a popcorn entertainer and it did hold my attention. But post that sequence, the show heads south and in a very big way. Each event is cliched wherein the writers have tried to make it unnecessarily convoluted. The excitement levels do dip with every passing minute so much so that you stop caring about who is after who and what the motive of the show is in general.
The proceedings are as flat as a pancake with cardboard characters that lack soul or any sort of emotional connect. It is so plain and devoid of any real twists and turns that this drama turns out to be a snoozefest. The constant jump in the timelines, either to the near past or the distant past and then back to the current timeline is so distracting that you as a viewer aren’t allowed to settle into the drama at any point of time. It is just insipid writing in hope that the audience would lap up to just about anything which is served to them.
The guessing game of a mole in the agency is so lame that it barely lasts at all. Even the action sequences do not impress with multiple jump cuts accompanying it. The ‘real’ twist does come late in the day but it surprisingly adds nothing to the overall proceedings which are dull. Overall, all I can about the screenplay in totality is that it shouldn’t have been penned in the first place. The writing cannot be so dull and lethargic.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are corny and chresy and just not impactful. The BGM is decent but nothing can be a substitute for bad writing. The cinematography is good but letdown by some poor editing particularly in the combat sequences. Directors Newton Thomas Sigel and Jessica Yu just miss the mark in creating anything significant which would be remotely worth your time. The direction is poor and purely gimmicky in many ways.
The performances are decent but the cast still not collectively rescue this sinking ship. Stanley Tucci as Bernard is well restrained and has his moments to shine. Roland Moller as Anders and Davik is decent although both of his characters are one dimensional. Leslie Manville as Dahlia is good but not quite intimidating. Richard Madden as Mason Kane is impressive with his stoic expressions although at some point they do get a tad too repetitive. Priyanka Chopra Jonas is exceptional as Nadia. She looks like a million bucks and she does kick some a*s while being very dignified with her performance which sadly ends up in a banal show!
The first season of Citadel is one of the most banal spy thrillers ever that ends up as a total disappointment. And the show has got me worried for its Hindi Adaptation too given its abysmal writing. Available on Amazon Prime(but steer clear).