Everyone loves a good revenge thriller, the chance to see a hero take out the people who have wronged them and achieve justice. Well, maybe, not everyone, since they often travel a dark path in order to get to redemption, and may have lost sight of what it was they were trying to achieve in the process. Yet there continues to be more and more of this setup in film and TV, and the latest is the adaptation of Jack Carr’s book The Terminal List, which follows a Navy SEAL working to unravel a massive conspiracy and stay alive after returning home from a disastrous overseas mission.
Prime Video’s new series stars Chris Pratt, an actor who has gone from a goofy supporting player on NBC’s Parks and Recreation to a megastar in just over a decade. His leading role in Guardians of the Galaxy and related Marvel Cinematic Universe properties has made him extremely recognizable, one of the famous Hollywood Chrises (not to be confused with Evans, Pine, or Hemsworth). Anchoring another Prime Video project, The Tomorrow War, highlighted his action skills with some comedy still present, and now he makes a much more dramatic pivot with this dark thriller.
Portraying James Reece feels closest to a small part Pratt played shortly into his stint as the dim-witted Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, that of a Navy SEAL on the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty. This return to television is notable for Pratt since it’s his first time on the small screen since that mockumentary series, and, like another actor made famous for his many looks at the camera, John Krasinski, he’s choosing to get serious on Prime Video with his own action series, one that’s not too far off from Krasinski’s TV follow-up to The Office, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
Establishing Pratt’s resume is crucial to the perception of this show because he is such a known quantity, and audiences might expect to see him in a more lighthearted part like the ones that have brought him such success in the past. In this series, however, there isn’t much to laugh about, and there are many disturbing moments that show how fleeting happiness can be and the human potential for evil. Reece does feel like the good guy but it’s still not always possible to root for him as anything but the best option among a slew of even worse choices whose aims were clearly never good.
The launch of The Terminal List continues an inconsistent but prevalent tradition of Prime Video to put out an entire season at once, matching the model that only Netflix seems to have solidly stuck by while other streaming services prefer the multi-episode debut followed by one new episode per week. Dropping all eight episodes on the same day means that audiences might be able to binge the entire series at once, a desire that might be provoked by the combat-heavy end of the first episode but isn’t matched by the otherwise tedious pacing of the rest of the show.
The Terminal List should appeal to a specific type of viewer, someone who enjoys series centered on military or government agent personnel. Digging too deep into the plot will likely only lead to convoluted and not entirely coherent answers, putting this series on par with something like 24 for its emphasis on action and violence above all else. There’s also a degree of The Punisher mixed in, though Pratt’s charisma is notably different from that show’s star, Jon Bernthal. Any viewer’s enjoyment of The Terminal List will be highly dependent on their perception of Pratt and their desire to engage in a culture of brutality and misery too often seen on television.
All eight episodes of The Terminal List premiere on Prime Video on Friday, July 1st.