The Terminal List
A collaboration between director Antoine Fuqua and leading man Chris Pratt for a brawny, all-American military thriller seems like a no-brainer. In the case of The Terminal List, the muscular, heavy-handed direction of Fuqua combines somewhat effectively with Pratt’s stocky, dependable screen presence for a serial adaptation of Jack Carr’s novel which breaks no new ground, but will pacify fans of the genre.
Pratt is James Reece, an experienced, skilled Navy SEAL commander whose platoon, in the very opening sequence of the first episode, is ambushed on a covert mission, having been fed faulty information by a usually reliable source. Upon returning home to his wife, Lauren (Riley Keough), and daughter, Lucy (Arlo Mertz), Reece begins to suspect that he is embroiled in a deep conspiracy against him and his family, with the government’s official version of what transpired on the mission incompatible with Reece’s recollection of events. Meanwhile, Reece begins to experience cognitive deterioration which sees his memory severely compromised, rooting the show firmly in the world of “unreliable narrator”.
In its winding plot, shrouded in bureaucratic mist and untrustworthy characters, the story draws upon the golden age of political conspiracy thrillers of the 1960s and 70s, and broadly keeps the intrigue taut and watchable, especially in the first couple of episodes. Perhaps predictably, in line with Fuqua’s style of direction (maintained in the episodes helmed by Ellen Kuras), The Terminal List does not conjure the tone and innate sense of mystery as other, more deft entries into the conspiracy thriller arena. The show does, however, reflect the virtues of his filmmaking, with vigorous, lean action set pieces akin to the equally on-the-nose yet entertaining Equalizer films, even if cinematographer Armando Salas’s irksome low lighting is more moody than mood conjuring.
Pratt holds his own in the central role, proving himself again to be a solid, if uninspired, action hero, although it is sometimes hard to gauge how far the show wants you to side with his character. All-in-all, The Terminal List is a heavy-fisted, by-the-numbers affair, but one not without thrills and a moderately intriguing plot.
The Terminal List is released on Amazon Prime Video on 1st July 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Terminal List here: