Two years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, and the first trailer for Prime Video’s globetrotting spy series Citadel boils down to: “What if The Bourne Identity, but there are two of them?” Maybe that’s not totally fair to the Russo Brothers’ ambitious franchise-building project, which premieres on the streamer on April 28. But memory-wiped secret agent inevitably invites comparison, and so far the trailer is all we have to go on.
Well, that’s not precisely true. We also have this synopsis: “Eight years ago, Citadel fell. The independent global spy agency—tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people—was destroyed by operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate manipulating the world from the shadows. With Citadel’s fall, elite agents Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) had their memories wiped as they narrowly escaped with their lives,” it reads. “They’ve remained hidden ever since, building new lives under new identities, unaware of their pasts. Until one night, when Mason is tracked down by his former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), who desperately needs his help to prevent Manticore from establishing a new world order. Mason seeks out his former partner, Nadia, and the two spies embark on a mission that takes them around the world in an effort to stop Manticore, all while contending with a relationship built on secrets, lies, and a dangerous-yet-undying love.”
The trailer is sleek, explosive, and just a hint of sexy, paired with the kind of quips you’d expect from the producers who made their bones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (“I thought you were gonna catch it,” Mason says after throwing a knife at a horrified Nadia, “And then I was gonna be like, ‘Then how come you can do that?’”) It’s also a topsy-turvy adventure (literally: the camera keeps spiraling upside-down and right-side-up) filled with big stunts and possible betrayals.
Whether it will be a worthy return on investment remains to be seen. Reports last year indicated that Citadel had become the second-most expensive television series ever, following Prime Video’s Rings Of Power. The series was allegedly plagued by “cost overruns and creative differences,” changing hands from writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec to Hunters’ David Weil mid-production. All of that time, money, and behind-the-scenes drama resulted in a first season with just six episodes, according to Variety. (We’ll venture a guess now that they are, at least, “movie-length” episodes.) On the strength of this flagship series, Prime will then launch international spin-offs, already in production in Italy, India, and soon in Mexico.
The Russos remain excited about the endeavor, which is totally not at all Bourne-like, to hear Joe Russo explain it. “The new personalities” the characters developed during their eight-year hiatus “come in conflict with their old personalities,” he said at a press event in February (per Variety). “That was the idea that I think most excited us, because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before, where you have multiple characters dealing with a crisis of personality and a crisis of conscience.” You’ll be able to judge the relative originality for yourself come April.