So, what’s with the headline? Well, let me try and explain it. I needed more words to express my feelings about this mini-series, and I ran out of them. The Terminal List is an Amazon Prime Video original mini-series/movie/TV series thing. I’m not sure what to call it, so let’s stick with a mini-series.
Estimated reading time: 0 minutes
This review will be as spoiler free as possible, but no guarantees. So proceed at your own risk. The Terminal List can be found on Amazon Prime Video, and you will need an Amazon Prime account to watch it. I’m sure that it will be available on other platforms in the future. Let’s take a look at, The Terminal List.
The Terminal List
The Terminal List Cast
- Chris Pratt: James Reece
- Constance Wu: Katie Buranek
- Taylor Kitsch: Ben Edwards
- Riley Keough: Lauren Reece
- Arlo Mertz: Lucy Reece
- Jeanne Tripplehorn: Secretary Hartley
- Jared Shaw: Ernest ‘Boozer’ Vickers
- JD Pardo: Tony Layun
- LaMonica Garrett: Commander Bill Cox
- Christina Vidal: Mac Wilson
- Nick Chinlund: Admiral Gerald Pillar
- Tyner Rushing: Liz Riley
- Drew Starkey: Junior Alba
- Alexis Louder: Nicole Deptula
- Jai Courtney: Steve Horn
- Matthew Rauch: JAG Captain Howard
- Paul McCrane: Mike Tedesco
- Stephen Bishop: Richard Fontana
The series follows Lieutenant Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) after his platoon of Navy SEALs are ambushed while on a covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his culpability. As new evidence comes to light, Reece discovers dark forces working against him, endangering not only his life but the lives of those he loves. (from Wikipedia)
I have to admit. After reading the synopsis and watching The Terminal List trailer, I wasn’t convinced Chris Pratt would make this character work. I mean, this is Star-Lord. You know, the cocky, smart mouth, clumsy, yet loveable buffoon from Guardians of the Galaxy. Oh, he’s also Andy Dwyer, basically Star-Lord without the Star or the Lord, from Parks and Recreation.
So I’m guilty of typecasting, aren’t we all from time to time? The truth is, Chris Pratt killed it as James Reece. The Terminal List is one of his, if not his best, performances to date. His delivery of this character was spot on, and I believed I was watching James Reece, not Chris Pratt.
There aren’t many actors who can get out of themselves and into their characters. Johnny Depp and Heath Ledger are two actors who can transcend themselves and embody the persona on-screen. That is a hard thing to do, and so we are left with actors who play themselves playing a character, like Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.
Don’t get me wrong. Actors who play themselves have made some great and fun movies; it’s just something special when one of them can get past that stereotype and make something golden. The Terminal List was Chris Pratt’s time to show he has the chops to be more than the goofball good guy or a sports-obsessed slob. I’m not much for awards; I don’t watch awards shows and never will, but in my book…Pratt wins the best actor award for The Terminal List.
But a good actor needs a supporting cast, and Pratt has that in spades. Noteworthy and stellar performances go to JD Pardo as Tony Layun and Jeanne Tripplehorn as Secretary Hartley. Honorable mentions Constance Wu as Katie Buranek and Taylor Kitsch as Ben Edwards. The cast played off each other well and looked comfortable in their roles and lines. The performances of these actors and the rest of the cast were integral in making Pratt’s performance shine.
The Terminal List is a straightforward action thriller, and for that, I love it! In a sea of movies pushing agenda after agenda, The Terminal List stands out. There is no message, no political agenda, and no cultural pontification in this movie. It is a simple, sometimes predictable, action/thriller/suspense story.
That said, I feel the filmmakers overplayed the screenplay’s simplicity, and it hurts the series at the onset. The first two episodes were deathly slow. The pacing of the show was like watching paint dry and just one coat of paint at that.
I feel that the information and set up material presented in the first two episodes of The Terminal List could have easily been fit into 30-minutes. I don’t know why they chose to drag out the setting up of the story this way. The show almost lost me after that second episode, but it hooked me like a nearly off-hook fish on the third episode.
In no way am I saying you should skip the first two episodes. There is pertinent information you will need to know that is contained there, but it is spread out across both episodes in such a way that you will have to watch them in their entirety.
Once you get to the third episode, The Terminal List is a rollercoaster ride of action that you do not want to get off. I think the movie misses catching the binge-watcher in those first two episodes; I certainly wasn’t excited to watch the second episode because the first left me hanging. And the same goes for the second episode. Thankfully, the third episode and beyond left me excited and wanting more.
I think you get my point.
My only other complaint about The Terminal List is the color grading and lighting of the series. Why is it so damn dark? I get that the mood is supposed to be dark, and Reece is a tortured soul who often would rather be dead than alive. It makes sense to give the film a gritty and dark feel when your main character carries so much pain and conflict inside of him.
But there is a limit to how physically dark you can make a film without losing your audience. The audience needs to see what is happening within a scene without having to turn the lights out in the room. The majority of the first two episodes were so dimly lit that it was difficult to see anything, even in a dark room, even with a 4K flagship television.
Things were a bit better after the first two episodes, but there were still many instances where I felt the lighting and color grading were just too dark to watch comfortably.
The Terminal List has a lot going for it. Chris Pratt and the supporting cast do a fantastic job of delivering a straightforward action thriller. I felt the producers and filmmakers overplayed their hands in the first two episodes, and they could have shaved 2 hours of content down to 30 minutes.
Overall. The Terminal List stands out because it brings back simplicity and leaves agendas at the door. It has its faults; what movie doesn’t? But even with its flaws, The Terminal List is worth taking some time out of your week to watch.