Chris go to war
At the start of the first episode, Chris Pratt’s voice-over recites a passage from the Bible while his character, in ceremonial uniform, attends a military funeral with a serious and sinister expression. The scene cuts to him planting his Navy crest on a coffin along with the last of the three knocks of the three volley salute, then the narrative returns”two weeks earlierto explain how it got there.
In just one minute, The list of terminals brings together almost all the unbearable clichés of a bad series of the genre and will continue to pile on the others over the eight nearly hour-long episodes that could have easily been condensed into a two-hour feature.
There’s Chris Pratt and lots of American flags flying in the wind
In this series adapted from the first of Jack Carr’s five novels around the same character, the actor plays James Reece, commander of a squad of NAVY Seals who was massacred during a special operation presented in the introduction. One of the rare striking action scenes and almost well filmed.
Returning home with a nasty concussion, fuzzy memories and troubling post-traumatic symptoms, the elite soldier tries to figure out what happened and ends up (quickly) discovering that he is at the heart of a military conspiracy which targeted him and his men (or his “brothers”, as they call each other).
The story could have stopped at what the trailer announced, and that would have been pretty good. However, what starts off as a rather basic paranoid thriller suddenly turns into a silly, marked-up tale of revenge when James Reece decides to draw up a list of people more or less involved in what happened to him and to kill them one after the other. From then on, the narrative structure becomes even simpler than in a video game: each episode corresponds to a new target to be killed in the name of these values which are justice, patriotism and love.
After accepting that the dialogue is meaningless and the photography is awfully flat (or flat awful) from start to finish, The list of terminals could have perhaps enjoyed itself as a kind of Punisher of the poor, if the series didn’t take itself so seriously and the characters were a little bit characterized.
There’s Taylor Kitsch, often on a boat with Chris Pratt
BLOOD (A LOT) AND TEARS (A LITTLE)
Like Chris Pratt, who became a handsomely remunerated stoic mass of empty muscle, The list of terminals has no nuance, no emotion and follows this soldier who eliminates Mexican hitmen, shady businessmen, terrorists and corrupt military personnel without distinction or restraint.
Even if some are played by rather recognizable faces, like Nick Chinlund, Sean Gunn or Jai Courtney (surprisingly good, compared to usual), all the characters listed on the list only exist for be mean and executed by James Reece in outrageously graphic violence most of the time.
There’s Jai Courtney and his really inconvenient minions who want to catch Chris Pratt
When he’s not planning his attacks, shooting at whatever’s in front of him or hooking a guy’s intestines to a pipe before ordering him to walk until he’s dead then, flashbacks come to sketch its history, but these sequences are unable to transcribe his trauma or make the character only human.
It doesn’t matter if the other good guys keep saying James Reece is a good guy, a war hero or a “victim“, his crusade is no more virtuous or cathartic, and even the show doesn’t seem to know whether to condone his actions, condemn them, or denounce the war and the system that got him out of control.
That’s arguably what’s most unnerving, besides the predictable twists, dripping symbolism, and programmatic characters: Throughout the eight episodes, The list of terminals pretends to have a richer and deeper story to tellas Minesweepers Where American sniper.
There’s JD Pardo and Christina Vidal, in the footsteps of Chris Pratt
Constance Wu plays a reporter specializing in Navy SEALs and corruption who investigates Reece and his squad while Jeanne Tripplehorn plays a Secretary of Defense trying to alert the government and public opinion to the mental health of deployed special forces from more and more frequently. Two intrigues which would have at least made it possible to approach questions with a certain resonance, but which remain unfortunately under-exploited next to the “hero’s” obsessive and bloody quest for revenge.
Same thing for the rest of the cast. Riley Keough, although mentioned in the credits, does not appear enough to express his fabulous talent, and each time he takes off his sunglasses for the camera to capture his dark and melancholy look, Taylor Kitsch proves he deserved to be in Chris Pratt’s place in the lead role instead of playing a former Navy SEAL turned CIA agent.
There’s Chris Pratt showing off Chris Pratt’s biscoteaux
In spite of the poverty of the writing or the realization, the few sequences they share contain an astonishing alchemy, bringing authenticity, humor and emotion which is sorely lacking elsewhere. When they storm a camp in Mexico with shotguns and flash grenades in the pouring rain while watching over each other, the series would almost make you want to reconsider season 2 of real detective and that Reece adds a name or two to his list to go and accomplish other missions with his old comrade in arms.
The first episode, directed by Antoine Fuqua, can at least take advantage of the director’s experience to bring tension, nervousness and a certain control to the image. On the other hand, once he gives up his place behind the camera, the staging offers nothing original or hard-hitting, including during the action scenes, which are essentially based on over-excited cutting, pyrotechnic effects and blank bullets fired in all directions.
There’s Constance Wu doesn’t want to be there and investigates Chris Pratt
Alternating between psychological drama, frantic manhunt and expeditious justice, the series then ends up copying The fugitive, The fall of the Black Falcon, Rambo and some adaptations by Tom Clancy for try to fill a lack of ambition and ideas which shines through a little more with each episode.
Ultimately, The list of terminals mostly looks like a new attempt by Amazon after Reach to pay find a replacement Jack Ryan before he retires introducing another character from best-selling novels just waiting to be adapted in future seasons.
The Terminal List is available in full on Amazon Prime Video since July 1