“The Terminal List” gets its name from a list that Reece creates on the back of his dead kid’s drawing, with new names added and crossed off, sometimes with blood. To take care of this, the series gets into stark, indulgent 50-minute episodes that exist for no greater need than seeing Reece win, like when he ventures to find the hired hands who attacked his wife and child. At first it is an uncertain, psychological question, but no, it’s very literal, and it is answered with an ’80s-wannabe action scene that also shows how savage Reece can be when it comes to getting his prized kill. You practically expect the camera to zoom way out and show the previous scenes as just the imagination of a young kid playing with action figures. It would make more sense that way.
In another instance, Reece performs an act of terrorism in San Francisco, because, well, he has a to-shoot list that needs marking, and he has the skills to pull it off more or less by himself. There’s also a moment in which Reece snipes one of his moving targets while accompanied by Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” albeit the dramatic movie trailer-ready, tone-deaf version we never needed, but nonetheless can accompany a cool shot of a car tumbling down the road. These sequences nonetheless give “The Terminal List” its purpose, as the plotting is so removed from its original feel that it barely has overall tension, with its emotional stakes themselves becoming touch-and-go. Every now and then, Reece has a vision of his wife and child, which are meant to stoke our reserves of anguished justice. At the most, they remind us how Pratt’s serious acting still does not have much depth to it, and he does no service to that with his performance in this openly deranged show.
But it doesn’t matter who plays this role, as Reece is not about charisma or personality. James Reece is the ultimate soldier id. He’s the myth of the American soldier molded by numerous war movies before him, without remembering that he is a myth. So much within action tales, whether based on cops, secrets agents, or soldiers, can be gratuitous, and that can be their gritty fun. But “The Terminal List” is gratuitous with a dead-serious face, one that is introduced as being unstable before its accompanying body is then treated like our instrument of truth. Released just in time for the Fourth of July, “The Terminal List” is jingoism at its finest, and absolute worst.
Six episodes of season one screened for review. “The Terminal List” premieres on Prime Video on July 1.
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