The Terminal List Season 1 Review – A terminally slow and meandering thriller

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – /5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – /5

 

The Terminal List has all the ingredients to be a sure-fire hit. High-octane action, twists and turns along with enough treachery and intrigue to keep you guessing. Unfortunately, all of those ingredients are spread out far too thinly across an 8 hour run-time that could have very easily been half that length.

Chris Pratt isn’t anywhere near charismatic enough in this role to carry the show through its slower segments, while a revolving door of characters do little to get you invested in the supporting players. This is one disappointing thriller.

Based on the Jack Carr novel of the same name, The Terminal List essentially takes elements from other movies and shows of the genre – from Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible through to Reacher and Jack Ryan. It then grabs the core elements of those and blends them together into what should be a pulsating thriller.

The story itself centers on a former Navy SEAL officer called James Reece (Chris Pratt). The story opens with a tense, covert mission deep in enemy territory. Reece leads his men to try and take out high-profile target… but there’s a problem. Their entry point is rigged with explosives and enemies quickly ambush them.

It’s a bloodbath, and as explosives are triggered Reece is one of the few remaining men to survive the incident. With the plan a bust, the soldiers head back to US soil and are debriefed. Mourning the loss of their brothers, Reece soon finds that the war has followed them home.

When his friends begin to die in mysterious ways, Reece quickly learns that there’s a conspiracy going all the way up the chain of command. Naturally, Reece begins to investigate further, setting up a kill list as he begins going after those responsible.

On paper, the premise is simple and effective, with the idea of a kill list essentially working as an ever-evolving mission for Reece to conduct. As the episodes tick by, and more and more names are added and crossed off that list, The Terminal List begins to slow down and become a laborious chore.

I mentioned that the episode run-time is around 8 hours and honestly, this show could easily have told the same story in half that length. Flashbacks are repeatedly constantly, dreamy sequences of Reece struggling mentally, and drawn out segments for supporting players that never stick around long enough to get fully invested in their plights.

The Terminal List juggles Reece’s investigation with another character, a female reporter by the name of Katie Buranek (Constance Wu). This works reasonably well to balance out the power dynamic, with Reece doing much more of the physical work and Katie using her skills to look deeper into the root cause of the operation-gone-wrong.

The trouble is, the show skews much further into the investigative work than it perhaps should, with numerous scenes early on involving board meetings and deals that essentially amount to busywork by the end. I’m being careful not to reveal spoilers here but by the end of episode 5, you’ll wonder just what the point of it all was. And to be honest, that episode’s cliffhanger feels like a natural ending…but then we still have 3 more hours of content to get through.

This wouldn’t ordinarily be an issue with a more pacey screenplay but The Terminal List meanders through even the most intense of scenes. In episode 6 we get what should be an exciting cat and mouse chase as Reece goes on the run. Instead of a brutal, pulsating 10 minute affair, or a nail-biting sequence like that car chase in Bourne Identity, we get a solid hour of trekking through the wilderness.

The whole episode splits up tiny bursts of gunfire around flashbacks, radio chatter and Tony Layun (JD Pardo) organizing traffic.

The pacing is ultimately The Terminal List’s most fatal flaw and something that drags everything down into mediocrity. There’s definitely a good story in here somewhere but it definitely didn’t need 8 episodes to tell it.

Visually, the show does look pretty good although once more the current trend with filming everything wearing sunglasses and the brightness turned down to 0 at night makes it difficult to discern exactly what’s happening during action scenes in the dark. It’s a trend that really needs to stop in Hollywood and The Terminal List is another example of why.

Compared to other staples of this genre, both on the big and small screen, The Terminal List is not a very memorable series. It overstays its welcome long before the final credits despite some nice twists right at the very end.

The Terminal List starts brightly but fizzles out before the final credits, making for a rather disappointing thriller.

The Terminal List releases on Amazon Prime 1st July 2022 worldwide!


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27 thoughts on “The Terminal List Season 1 Review – A terminally slow and meandering thriller”

  1. This review is spot on.
    Show is sloooooooow.
    I like Pratt for the role and Taylor K. In fact, I have no issues with the casting at all, but this storyline has been done to death and the pacing and constant flashbacks are torturous.

  2. The show is ruined by the ‘darkness’. And it’s not just battle scenes it’s the whole show. Funny when ‘artist’ make a truly horrible decision and somehow think it’s good. I bet some editor in a blacked out room using some super TV/computer monitor thought it looked awesome… did they think to view it on a normal TV?

  3. If you don’t find him charismatic enough to play, who’s your suggestion? This review made me laugh.

  4. When I started watching it, it was because amazon kept showing it in recommendation etc but i have to say i am really disappointed with the dark theme. I feel nowadays cheap production tries to hide behind dark scenes so that viewers can just imagine what is going on but if entire episodes are dark then its just poor camera work. I kept hoping the next episode will be better but its worse and there are characters whose faces i cant remember coz they are always in dark, much less their expressions .

  5. As a colourist, I can tell you it was graded to look this way. I opened up the first episode as an HDR project. The highlights nearly register in the HDR range with most content using less than 35% of the usable luminosity spectrum. The bottom range is so crushed that I cannot recover much detail from it. On a calibrated reference monitor, I cannot make out large parts of the scenes. Not sure who on earth thought this was a great idea and how it would end up looking on consumer TV’s. SDR is even worse and a normal HD TV will struggle to show anything for people to enjoy. The balance between artistic expression and practicality was definitely missed in this show.

  6. Never normally comment, but some of the reviews and comments regarding Terminal List is just straight out of stupidville. This has been one of the best series I’ve seen, I love army/war/soldier documentaries films and series and this has been by far the most realistic and people crying about it? It’s pathetic, that people are whinging about gun battles and all sorts when it’s written and directed by former navy seals… but 40st Fred who’d never left his mums basement thinks his views and ides of a gun battle and tactics are better and more knowledgeable then former navy seals.

  7. Very hard to watch due to the poor illumination. Not even possible to see facial expressions or to define what’s happening. It’s hard to understand how Amazon puts the bar so low for auditing their productions before release.

  8. left wing hollywood production crew making a conservative movie, what did you expect them to do in addition to making the movie very dark?

  9. Yes, it is filmed WAY WAY too dark. We need to just accept that Hollywood thinks this is cool, and learn to adjust the gamma, contrast, and brightness settings on our computer’s video graphics card. I do this for almost every movie/series that I stream. It’s very easy after you learn the process.

    For my graphics card, I right click the desktop and select Graphics Properties. This brings up the control panel for my Intel Graphics Control Panel. Then I fiddle around with the Display settings. After I have the appearance I want, I save that profile.

  10. Im thinking about quitting watching this show…. the dark scenes are WAY too dark

  11. Stop complaining about being to dark and men up. The series is just sick! Congrats to the team. It’s really well made. Loved the details and tells a lot about how so
    People are destroying the US… Left wings, FY.

  12. Having read the books, I disagree with most people here.I thoroughly enjoyed the show and demand a season two.Liked the way Pratt portrayed Reece and action sequences were done well.I would definitely give it 8/10 lived up to expectations.

  13. Too dark ruined the whole show. why destroy a good story with idiots that dont know how to film. it sucked.

  14. I tried very hard wanted to finish 1st episode, but after 40 minutes I needed to quit, it was way too dark and made me had a headache. The lightning ruined the whole production.

  15. I’m so happy so many commented about how dark it was. I was trying to tell my husband we needed a new tv because there’s no way anything would be filmed this dark!

  16. It was better to listen too because I couldn’t see anything on the screen, too dark. I watched episode 1 hoping that episode 2 would be brighter.

  17. Could not make it through episode 1 because it is shot WAY too dark. Understand the cinematic technique but didn’t work. Too bad, it is a good story.

  18. When I finished the book I was amazed, the characters felt real, his journey and story, righteous, and I was disappointed that it was over. Such a great tale from a freshman author! I loved it.

    I was extremely excited for this project and after viewing the first episode i was confused and wondering why Chris Pratt,
    arguably one of the softest action heroes in Hollywood, was chosen for this role. Watching the series was like passing a grisly accident on the highway for eight hours. I would beg the viewers who haven’t read the book to not be dissuaded by the series…it’s a fantastic novel, I loved it, but this series, there was no intensity, no passion, no ….I was going to say no nothing, but really, that’s the review in one word…”nothing!”

  19. Hey Brian,

    Yeah it’s a good point to be fair but even K-dramas suffer in the action genre. It’s one of those tricky genres to get the right balance between tension, mystery and action. I personally felt Terminal List meandered too much. I’m not sure why we were repeated that same flashback multiple times. I thought the Kill List could have been handled better. I was probably a bit harsh on this one but the later episodes just felt like they meandered on. I’d definitely watch a second season though (and not just because it’s my job!)

    Thanks for reading and your comments!

    -Greg W

  20. I feel it could have been a little tighter but it was really entertaining, particularly when it picked up a bit. I’m surprised you mention that though when you rate a lot of the Korean stuff really high (most of which I really like) but they are typically 16-22 episodes at 60-90 minutes each with FAR FAR too much filler.

  21. Cheaply made. You can’t see anyone’s faces. I can not believe this passed production. It’s a shame cause after 2 episodes I am done. Looks like my son produced it and he is 12.

  22. Thirty minutes into the show and I’m get really disappointed. They have deviated SO MUCH from the book that it doesn’t even feel like the book the author wrote! Bummer. Not sure I’m going to be able to finish the first episode let alone the whole series.

  23. I agree with the dark and the first episode felt like too much Gaslight which I didn’t like) for me. I had high hopes for this but I am one and done.

  24. I thought there was something wrong with my TV. You can barely see a lot of it. I loved this book but after episode 1 don’t know if I can watch the rest. Even the daytime scenes it’s hard to see the faces. It’s just as bad when I put it on my phone.

  25. The dark scenes are WAY too dark in this show. It’s quite annoying. Even with the brightness on my phone turned up to MAX it was difficult to make out what was going on in the dark scenes.

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