Series Review: Chris Pratt checks “The Terminal List”

The action bonafides are pretty solid for “The Terminal List,” a paranoid Big Conspiracy thriller now on Amazon. It’s based on a novel by Jack Carr, series creator David DiGilio scripted TV’s “Traveler,” Antoine “Training Day” Fuqua directed the pilot and Sylvain White (“The Losers”) directed two episodes.

It begins with a special op that goes awry in Syria and its path towards revenge takes it into the lawless “Sicario” corners of Mexico.

But whether or not you decide to invest in its starts-fast/turns-slow unraveling — eight hours worth — probably depends on your devotion to, tolerance for and acceptance of Chris Pratt as the veteran SEAL commander on this quest.

It’s not his first camo-clad role and far from his first time in action. But the guy I labeled “the last and least of the Chrises” in my upcoming review of “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is adequate, at best, leaving an emotional and action heroic void at the center of the series.

Pratt is Lt. Commander James Reece, on the trail of a Syrian chemical weapons mastermind when he and his team are trapped in the ancient sewers of, I guess what is supposed to be Tartus, Syria. Where else could Navy SEALS be smuggled ashore and access generic “It’s a TRAP” tunnels that seem to date from the Crusades?

When he gets home, his debriefing has holes in it. Reece’s memory seems faulty. “Headaches.” He’s had a concussion. Twelve comrades died in the ambush. Reece becomes convinced that they were “set up” and that the set-up is ongoing. The Navy is understandably leery of that, yet determined not to think of Reece as being at fault.

After all, he’s 40 and still “tip of the spear.”

But it’s hard to figure out why he isn’t taken into custody after his family (Riley Keough plays his wife) is murdered with his service firearm. He’s sure he’s being watched and hunted by sinister forces. A cynical reporter (Constance Wu) wants his story, but perhaps not the version of it he’s telling.

Only his old comrade/now-CIA buddy Ben (Taylor Kitsch) has his back. And maybe the Secretary of Defense (Jeanne Tripplehorn).

With NCIS on his case, shady characters revealed, one at a time, and more and more frequent headaches, Reece is up against it trying to get to the bottom of things.

Pratt isn’t very good at all at suggesting concern that “this is all in my head,” so that’s abandoned early on. Pairing him up with Kitsch and Wu just throws his limited range into sharp relief.

The action beats include an assault mid-MRI, kidnapping and “enhanced interrogation” of this lead or that suspect.

We’re treated to more comically degrading situations for Sean Gunn, forever known as director James Gunn’s actor brother, here playing a gauche, abrasive functionary of whoever or whatever is mixed up in this Plot to Get Reece.

Reece’s first attempt at a big speech is meeting this guy, and Pratt lands flat in playing it.

“There’s evil in this world. It’s our job to look it in the eye cause most folks don’t have the balls…All you’ve got to do is pay your taxes and stay out of our way.”


I’ve never been much of a Pratt hater. He was OK in some of the supporting roles that preceded his unlikely “Guardians of the Galaxy” jackpot. But as a star, he’s never amounted to anything outside of that franchise, where he’s a decent comic foil for Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper as a foul-mouthed raccoon, an unlikely love interest for franchise queen Zoe Saldana.

A couple of fight scenes kind of let us see the fight choreography at walk-thru speed. Even Joey King as “The Princess” was able to disguise that, most of the time.

As for the plot, there’s no “sizzle until it fizzles” because the story never really gets off the ground, never gets up and running.

After that opening firefight, there’s not much action to lift us above rich guy golf tourneys, strip club scenes, clandestine reporter meetings and the like.

It’s established that Wu’s journalist is a gambler, and she’s more colorful in that poker game moment than most of the scenes surrounding her ever is. And Kitsch carries himself like a man with a back story so well that every shared scene makes you wish the casting had been reversed.

Sad to say, if the fanboys ever tire of “Guardians,” that’s exactly where Pratt could land — second banana again. Well, maybe not on TV.

Rating: R, violence, nudity, profanity

Cast: Chris Pratt, Taylor Kitsch, Constance Wu, Jai Courtney, Sean Gunn, JD Pardo, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Riley Keough.

Credits: Created by David DiGilio, based on the novel by Jack Carr. An Amazon Prime release.

Running time: Eight episodes @ 1:00 each.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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6 Responses to Series Review: Chris Pratt checks “The Terminal List”

  1. Lockerius says:

    Holy s— dude did we watch the same series? The Terminal List was INCREDIBLE.

  2. MithrandirX says:

    I agree with you. I was out after he insulted all American taxpayers.

  3. Tim Collie says:

    Jesus Christ this is an awful review! The show is phenomenal (at least to this English major). The real issue is “critics” don’t like anything not woke.

    • Roger Moore says:

      Your ad hominem use of “Woke” suggests your English teachers, and college experience, didn’t “take.” Your endorsement of “Terminal List” suggests you’ve got camo-poisoning. The star is a void, the show is insomnia cured in slow motion.

  4. Roopesh "the roo man" says:

    i just finished the series ….it was dull week so I decided to watch based on the ratings. I liked it cause am biased to myself since I watched it for days ( dont do binge watch) . thanks for highlighting what i missed. Keep reviewing dude \m/

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