The Terminal List is a high-octane revenge thriller with perhaps the best performance of Chris Pratt’s career.
This review of the Amazon original series The Terminal List season 1 does not contains spoilers.
Remember when the July 4th weekend was the destination for the great Hollywood blockbuster? While Top Gun: Maverick saved cinema, streaming has the upcoming holiday weekend blockbusters ready for release. Netflix has the second volume of Stranger Thing’s fourth season, but Amazon Prime has The Terminal List, a pulse-pounding, high-octane revenge thriller led by a major star, Chris Pratt, who is about to have the best summer of his professional life. His new series is a blockbuster. It also happens to contain the best performances of his career.
The Terminal List follows Lt. Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) as he leads his elite unit to capture a chemical weapons terrorist, Kahani. They are following a piece of credible information from the intelligence community. Things go wrong, very wrong. The Navy SEAL team walks into a trap when covertly moving through the underground sewer. Most exits are blocked by armed insurgents, and the knee-high water is a spiderweb of trip wires. When Reece and Boozer (Jared Shaw) find an escape, a support trooper panics and flees. He ignores the Commander’s pleas to watch the trip wire. A bomb goes off, and Reece is knocked out cold. Or was it the trooper? The story shifts when Reece runs through a debrief and takes in the damage report. The audio caught one of his SEAL team members, Donny Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), panicking and setting off the bomb.
What exactly happened? On the ride home from the base, he tells his buddy Ben (Taylor Kitsch), a CIA agent who doesn’t like to work, that it was a setup. The issue is no one believes him. Ben is skeptical. His boss, Admiral Pillar (Nick Chinlund), thinks he is out of control, and his wife, Lauren (Riley Keough), is concerned. She knows the history of veterans with PTSD. Lauren sees the anger, fatigue, fear, paranoia, issues sleeping, and changes in his personality. Reece is distant, ruminating over the ambush, and not engaging, even with his nine-year-old daughter, Lucy (Arlo Mertz). As Lauren tries to convince her husband to have a medical professional check him, a war correspondent/reporter, Katie Buranek (Constance Wu), approaches him looking for a story.
The Terminal List is based on Jack Carr’s New York Times best-selling political thriller. In the adaptation, written by showrunner David DiGilio (Traveler) and executive produced by Pratt and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), the team made a point to tone down the political thriller aspect of the book and ramp up the action to a substantial degree. Having watched the entire series, you are watching a well-plotted revenge thriller. The unreliable narrator also has an added element, which can be overplayed as of late. Still, they use it in a way that adds to the mystery and a touching, unexpected human element. The most effective subplot is when Reece combines nightmares with a memory addressing the death of a starling with his wife and daughter.
The show can be overwrought with action at times, and the last episode puts Pratt’s Reece in a particular cold light with aspirations for additional seasons (there are five books in the series). Yet, Pratt carries The Terminal List with a surprising amount of depth and touching resonance on top of the high-octane action scenes. The standout episodes for Pratt, including “Transcience” and “Reclamation”, I’ll repeat, is the best performance of his career. The star, on the record, has been very supportive of military service men and women. Pratt makes sure themes of trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and the pressure it places on family and mental health, are handled with empathy and care.
Sure, a big reveal at the end of the season is evident for any critic worth their salt but will pay off for general audiences. Also, the plot may be too technical for the coverup story here. (Even though my complaint would be it is watered down for viewers). However, The Terminal List is blockbuster entertainment. Unlike the show Halo, the series can keep a high level of production and action throughout the run and the pilot, directed by Fuqua, is a thrilling hour of streaming television.
This is an event television series, and The Terminal List brings back the blockbuster this July 4th weekend.
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