After a mission gone wrong, Navy SEAL James Reece (Chris Pratt) returns home as the lone survivor of his platoon. Suffering from a head wound and possible hallucinations, James is forced to piece together the events leading to the ambush that killed his men, and soon finds himself in the middle of a convoluted web of deception and betrayal way above his pay grade.
Based on the best-selling novels by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, The Terminal List fits the mould of the kind of classic action thriller that had its heyday in the ‘90s. Teaming up with his Magnificent Seven collaborator Chris Pratt, Antoine Fuqua takes on the dual mantle of Executive Producer and director of the pilot episode, delivering a bullet-riddled vengeance ride reminiscent of his military vigilante flick Shooter.
At its core, it’s the kind of fast-paced revenge thriller fuelled by patriotism and firepower we’ve seen time and time again, but the layers of political intrigue and psychological twists Carr throws into the mix add just enough tension to keep the plot fresh.
Constance Wu does what she can with her exposition-heavy role as Katie Buranek, the journalist digging into Reece’s story. Her innate charisma manages to keep her scenes from fading into the background when pitted against high-octane explosions and knife-fights, but it’s a shame that she wasn’t given more to do.
Given its origins as a book series well known for its relentless action, the story makes a difficult transition to the screen — after dropping us into the deep end of a war zone with the opening scenes, the pacing takes a hit as Reece works through his recovery and reconnects with his family back on the homefront. The ensuing conspiracy makes for an enticing puzzle, but unfortunately the plot twists are predictable enough to keep them from being truly memorable.
Intrigue and paranoia coalesce into standard-issue twists and turns, but with Fuqua’s deft hand at the helm, the tension is consistent enough to make this a bingeable watch.