How a darker Chris Pratt elevated Amazon’s ‘The Terminal List’

Take a man’s family away from him, and he will change and then some. For James Reece, a Navy Seal who loses his whole team was ambushed and killed during a high stakes mission, losing everything blazed a trail of revenge that led up the entire ladder of the military. Cue the betrayal, twists, more betrayal, backstabbing, and deadly espionage. Inside a tight eight episodes (take note, longer TV season makers), Reece goes from a family man/seal to a man with nothing but a list.

The show premiered on July 1, triggering the usual reaction from the Pratt hater crowd who attach his name to an anti-LGBTQ church every time he has a new release. Due to this white noise, the show got a bad rap and less-than-stellar reviews while being avoided by thousands due to a claim (never confirmed) that has nothing to do with the show we’re talking about. Oh, and the subject matter was too much. A Navy Seal losing everything and going scorched Earth on his employers and any other crazy gunman was too much for people? There’s a movie with Timothee Chalamet about cannibals and another movie in theaters right now where a young man has his entire head burnt off by a blow torch.

What people decide is intolerable becomes more laughable, especially with this being a make believe enterprise. You can build a network on a bunch of crummy, boring reality shows, but people will lose interest. What normal day warriors would like is some sort of escapism with just enough of a life current flowing throughout it. Here, it’s a war-torn story about the military trying to get an extra advantage in the arms race (outside of having the most cash and arms in the world) and the consequences of that action. Basically, they pissed off the wrong guy. The wrong big and very tall guy. Oops!

Based on a book by Jack Carr, a former Navy Seal who wrote a series of books centering around Reece and his latest adventure. This adventure has him operating normally on a recon mission and finding a trap befalling his team, an instance that becomes foggy when Reece doesn’t recall important parts of the mission after the fact. Were his guys killed? Did the enemy surprise them? Memory loss, a mystery drug, and other sleeper cells frequent the plot and episodes of “The Terminal List,” a show that keeps moving without overwhelming the audience.


But the thing that made “The Terminal List,” special was star Chris Pratt’s decision to inhabit a darker role than usual. Instead of the swashbuckling and day-saying without a shirt change Starlord from James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Owen from the “Jurassic World” movies, Amazon Prime subscribers were treated to a sinister kid in Pratt’s Reece. Don’t get me wrong. Owen saving the day while riding a bike ever so nimble around raging dinosaurs or flying around on his foot rockets giving Spider-Man shit is fun and all, but the need to be shown more is what I asked from Pratt.

Pratt didn’t play Reece like a classic hero or anti-hero though, instead going for a guy whose world gets extremely dark before he can even attempt to understand what happened to him. A tricky role that some action stars would just lean back on what the fans liked or enjoyed, Pratt took in a different, darker direction. Along with doing the hard work and prep in embodying a Navy Seal, Pratt nailed the coldness and overall deadliness of a man hellbent on revenge.

However, he’s not a man driven to find the wrongdoers who doesn’t stop for a shower, sleep, or have a frigging meal! Midway through the series, Reece is greeted at his motel room door by a former Seal named Ben (Taylor Kitsch), who is helping him find the ones responsible for the death of his team and family (no spoilers folks when it’s right there in the trailer and plot). Ben gifts him with news on the leads and trails of the bad folks, but also gives the vengeful soul a pleasant and delicious looking breakfast burrito. One that Reece promptly destroys. This isn’t important to the aesthetic value of the show or its Emmy credibility, but it meant a lot to this guy who needed a small dose of realism.


Don’t you hate when the protagonist runs and sprints for the entire show or movie? It may be a world of magician work and far-fetched action, but a little levity goes a long way in a darker action drama like “The Terminal List.” It has a fine supporting cast in Constance Wu (the reporter helping Reece uncover the baddies), Jeanne Tripplehorn as a shady Secretary, the overrated Jai Courtney in a scenery-chewing role, and Riley Keough and Patrick Schwarzenegger in smaller roles.

But it is Pratt’s show, the reason you should stop what you are doing and watch “The Terminal List.” It’s the first time since he became a legit star-sorry, “Parks and Recreation” fans-that he has taken on a role that had a few extra shades and layers to its construction. The first time you get the idea that Pratt’s avenging anti-hero-he shoots a guy in the head point blank on a set of stairs outside a very public building-could be up to no good, or just be very damaged goods. There’s a fear and chill in his eyes that wasn’t there before, and it makes the show much better to watch and unfold.


Click PLAY without reading another headline. Don’t let the non-watchers tell you it’s worth skipping. For what is promised and hyped up during the trailers and first part of the series, it delivers on. And that’s the undying connection between Reece and his daughter, Lucy (Arlo Mertz putting in some non cute kid work). A certain memory of the Navy Seal with his family, which took place before the ambushed mission, is what the entire series spins on for the entire series. It’s this heartfelt element that keeps the show from becoming nothing but guns, blood, and moods.

Chris Pratt showed me something new here, and I hope there’s more where his thrilling James Reece came from. Hey Amazon, make more episodes, please.

Hey readers, go watch “The Terminal List” on Amazon.

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