SERIES "The Terminal List"
WHERE Streaming on Prime Video
WHAT IT'S ABOUT "The Terminal List" stars Chris Pratt as Lt. Cmdr. James Reece, a Navy SEAL who returns home to his family in California after his platoon is ambushed on a mission in Syria.
Facing his grief over the loss of his men and serious PTSD, Reece also comes to realize that there's a lot more to the story of what happened to SEAL Team 7 than the narrative promulgated by the military brass.
This eight-part series also stars Riley Keough as Reece's wife Lauren, Taylor Kitsch, Constance Wu, Jeanne Tripplehorn as the secretary of defense and Patrick Schwarzenegger. It's an adaptation of Jack Carr's novel and the first episode is directed by action movie veteran Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day").
MY SAY It sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it's not: This series finds some life and energy in one of the oldest formulas around.
You don't need to be the world's foremost scholar on Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan or the long series of paranoid '60s and '70s thrillers that preceded them to know exactly what "The Terminal List" brings to the table, at least based on a screening of the first two episodes.
All the elements combine to conjure up your classic conspiracy drama template, in which a military man uncovers just how deeply he's been wronged by the institutional apparatus that's supposed to have looked out for him.
Drop onto that a nice hearty scoop of revenge theatrics, as Reece goes rogue in his pursuit of answers, and it's easy to see where this is probably going.
But sometimes, when they're directed and performed with the appropriate amount of focus and skill, even the most basic structures provide enough entertainment value to warrant returning to the same old place, again and again.
There's plenty to admire about the way "The Terminal List" establishes Reece's horrible predicament and sets the character out on his pursuit of justice.
Dynamic filmmaking touches include a nearly four-minute, dialogue-free montage that opens the second episode and conveys a surprising amount of emotional depth. Creator David DiGilio and his directors achieve a resonant portrayal of the way in which experiencing PTSD can suddenly rupture a moment at the most inconvenient time.
While it would be nice to see Pratt step away from the action genre before he gets completely typecast, his charisma remains intact, even when he can't rely on his usual comedic flourishes because he's playing such a shattered character.
In the days before the streaming revolution, "The Terminal List" would have been turned into a big screen summer action blockbuster and over and done within about two hours. Instead, audiences are being asked to stick with it for hours of bingeing.
Whether there's enough to the story to pull that off can only be answered by watching the full eight episodes, of course, but it establishes things successfully enough that you're compelled to stay with it.
BOTTOM LINE Fans of quality action and thriller storytelling will have a good time with "The Terminal List," even if they'll probably be able to predict exactly where it's going.