Andrea’s film review – The Terminal List

The Terminal List ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A former Navy SEAL officer investigates why his entire platoon was ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. The Terminal List is streaming now on Prime.

Based on a book by real-life Seal Jack Carr, this glossy American action/thriller eight-part series stars Chris Pratt as Lieutenant Commander James Reece, whose platoon of Navy SEALs are ambushed while on a covert mission and are decimated.

On his return home Reece begins to question his memory of the event and slowly uncovers what looks like a conspiracy at the highest level of power.

It’s an intriguing start for a series which takes some really dark turns… I can’t really give away what happens at the end of the first episode, but let’s just say that events turn pretty nasty forcing Reece to become one of the most conflicted, harshest and nastiest anti-heroes probably since Rambo in the ‘80s.

There’s an amazing discrepancy in how the critics and the public have viewed this series: the score on Rotten Tomatoes is clear evidence of the stark contrast (40% versus 95%)

It seems a lot of critics have found the tone of the series too hopeless and too grim to deal with. Crucially they have found it impossible and maybe morally wrong to be asked to sympathise with somebody who’s doing really bad things. In fact Reece becomes a real vigilante as he eventually goes off a killing spree, knocking off one by one all those people he believes are guilty (the “terminal list” from the title).

As ever, I stand pretty much in the middle. I mostly enjoyed the series, though as is the case with most recent TV series, it could all have been a lot tighter: it really didn’t need eight episodes to tell this kind of story.

And yes, it was relentlessly grim. In fact the darkness didn’t just concern its subject matter, nor its ethical grounds, but it was quite a literal darkness too. You may often find yourself having to adjust the brightness of your TV set.

It’s also a bit disappointing to see it missing the chance to develop a good argument and compelling story around PTSD, soldiers coping with the aftermath of a tragedy at war and the abuse of power among politicians, preferring instead to just veer towards conspiracy theories, so reminiscent of those political thrillers from the ‘80s and ‘90s steeped in paranoia. A sort of X-Files without the Aliens.

So when you look at it closely, it’s all a bit empty and light, despite its seemingly heavy subject matter.

In its defence, it does have some cracking action scenes, which are as tense as they are gripping. When the action kicks in, it really works beautifully…. shame about all the padding here and there.

The cast is filled with recognizable faces, with names such as Jeanne Tripplehorn, who plays the  Secretary of Defence and Constance Wu, a journalist who gets dragged deeper and deeper into the conspiracies and serves and the only barometer for “good” in an otherwise hopeless, tragic and corrupt world.

As for Chris Pratt, he rises to the occasion as the anti-hero of the piece, though knowing his comedic timing from his previous films, it seems to me a bit of waste to cast him in a part which has ZERO humour.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

The Terminal List is streaming now on Prime.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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