Lieutenant Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) leads a SEAL squad called Alpha on special missions in the Middle East. At some point, the squad received the task of neutralizing a particularly dangerous chemist named Kahani. The operation “Sword of Odin” was developed, the detachment went to carry it out, but at the same time was ambushed, where almost all the fighters were killed, only James and officer Vickers (Jared Shaw) survived. Rhys suffered a serious head injury during the operation.
After the shell shock, the Lieutenant Commander clearly has something wrong with his health. He is sure that he returned home with Vickers: they delivered the bodies of their comrades by plane, but James was told that Vickers returned with the bodies without him and that Vickers committed suicide upon returning home.
Rhys does not believe that Vickers himself could have done this, he believes that in fact he was killed and that the military leadership was involved in this. James also suspects that there was something wrong with the Sword of Odin operation itself, and he intends to find out.
The wife persuades Rhys to undergo a CT scan, but during the procedure, he is attacked by some people. And then the commander realizes that the danger threatens not only him, but also his loved ones.
The series is based on several books by Jack Carr. Jack himself is a former Navy SEAL who has led Special Operations Teams as Team Leader, Platoon Leader, Squad Leader and Operations Commander and has gone from SEAL Sniper to Operations Commander in his twenty years of service.
In 2016, Carr retired from the army and in 2018 released his first novel, The Terminal List, which was based on his own experience. After that, he released a book every year, of which five have been published so far, the latest of which is called In the Blood: A Thrillervolume 5 (Terminal List, 5), and it came out in May of this year. These books are very popular.
Actor Jared Shaw, himself a former Navy SEAL, was familiar with Jack Carr at work. During the filming of Future War, Shaw met Chris Pratt, gave the actor Carr’s first book to read, and Chris was very interested in the idea of making a film out of this book.
Chris began to negotiate for the film rights, and found out that director Antoine Fuqua, who had starred in The Magnificent Seven, was also acquiring the rights, and invited Fuqua to work together on this project – and he agreed. When they and Antoine began developing The Death Row, they realized that such a story was not worth trying to fit into a two-hour film and that it was worthy of an entire mini-series.
It was not difficult for Pratt to get funding from the streaming service Amazon Prime, which had previously bought the rights to show “Future War” and the series “Jack Ryan” and “Jack Reacher”, the showrunner of the new series was the writer and producer David DiGiglio, and among the producers of the series – the writer Jack Carr himself, Chris Pratt and Antoine Fuqua, and Fuqua personally directed the first series.
At the same time, there are twenty-five people in the film crew of the series who have real combat experience. Actually, most of the actors of the Alpha squad are former military men. Among the actors of the FBI team pursuing Rhys in the series, there are also quite a few people with a military background.
And what, you ask, did they get out of all this?
The beginning of the “Death List” was strongly reminiscent of the series “The Punisher” with Jon Bernthal. The one, although it was based on a comic book, was actually a tough, action-packed and quite realistic drama: a former military man who received severe psychological trauma and lost his loved ones, a corrupt military leadership, the search for and punishment of those responsible.
And it seemed to me – at least at first – that this was really such a “Punisher at the minimum”, because this series, in my opinion, somehow did not reach the level of “The Punisher”. In addition, the moment that, at first, they began to play the card of an “unreliable witness” was somewhat jarring to us – James has a clouded mind, he is haunted by hallucinations, and we do not always understand what is really happening, and what is the fruit of his imagination, – but after an MRI examination, these hallucinations were forgotten in the series and no longer remembered about them. Somehow it wasn’t done very well.
However, from the moment that Rhys got that very “death list”, the series, as it should, as they say, swayed and it was already quite interesting to watch it. Here is a story about revenge, and an action movie, and an action-packed drama, and even a kind of political thriller.
Chris Pratt as James is very good. It is clear why the actor is so interested in this project: he clearly wants to get away from the image of a charming fighting gouging, which seems to have stuck to him in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Chris had already tried to play a serious role in the film “Passengers”, but it was such a semi-fantastic melodrama that the creators tried to pass off as adventure fiction, and they didn’t get anything out of it. And Pratt there to play, in fact, there was simply nothing. And in The Magnificent Seven, his image was no different from the image of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. In the “War of the Future” his role seems to be more serious, but there the script does not stand up to criticism, and this greatly hinders.
But here Pratt finally managed to turn around with might and main. A terrible psychological trauma, a serious breakdown, a state of complete despair, and only a thirst for revenge makes this person continue to act: the “death list” is replenished with new names, previous names are crossed out, that is, these people are eliminated by Rhys, and the commander will not stop until the list is closed Or until they kill him. He has nothing to lose.
No jokes for you (and what kind of jokes are there, the story is extremely dramatic), no irony, no winks. A deeply tragic character, obsessed with a thirst for revenge – a similar character was played by Jon Bernthal in The Punisher, where Jon was really very good. So, Chris in this role also looked quite dignified and reliable. And to compare him with an absolutely caricatured and completely incomprehensible John Wick (a phrase from one review is given in the epigraph) – well, no comparison is even close. So Pratt proved that he was quite capable of dramatic roles of this kind: powerful, brutal, emotional and authentic.
His closest friend, helping Rhys in everything, was played by Taylor Kitsch. I first saw this actor in “Sea Battle”, where I rather did not like him. But in the second season of True Detective, he played a very laconic and almost unemotional person, whose soul is full of all sorts of demons, and in this role Kitsch was already very good. Such a character is very difficult to play well, but Taylor did it.
I liked the role here too. This Ben Edwards seems to be just helping his friend, he does not differ in particular talkativeness and almost does not show emotions, but the character turned out to be noticeable and charismatic. It is clear that Edwards was not supposed to outshine Rhys, so the character was noticeably limited in script, but Kitsch was able to make him memorable.
Constance Wu in the series plays journalist Katie Buranek, who investigates the story of Rhys and his group. An interesting character turned out: Katie is a kind of truth-teller who extremely purposefully “digs up” this story, no matter how high positions the people whose activities she studies occupy, and she is an investigative journalist, not a hunter for cheap sensations. Katie is a strong and strong-willed person, and it is unlikely that she will be intimidated. And Constance is really good in this role, I really liked it.
Well, in the FBI group dealing with the Rhys case, Tony Layun, played by Jay Dee Pardo, stood out. Layun is a kind of “good FBI man”: he is conscientious about the investigation, but at the same time he clearly sympathizes with James Rees.
I’ll also mention Jai Courtney, who plays Steve Horn, the CEO of Capstone Industries, an obviously rogue company. Courtney swayed almost to the articles of Dwayne Johnson, but the director here turned out to be very colorful and charismatic, and not at all with his physical condition. It even seemed to me that Courtney had more or less learned how to play something, and he didn’t make such an impression before.
The series has eight 55-minute episodes and is a complete story, meaning it’s a mini-series. I love such formats: you can watch it quickly enough, and the series does not slide into complete insignificance, which often suffers from multi-season series.
In general, I liked it. “The Punisher” will still be stronger: it is more powerful, more dramatic and more inventive in terms of plot, but “The Death List” is clearly worth watching, and Chris Pratt has shown that he is quite capable of characters of this kind.
PS Donnie Mitchell, a young guy from Rhys’ squad, is played by Patrick Schwarzenegger, Arnold’s son. At the same time, Chris Pratt is Patrick’s son-in-law, because he is married to Katherine Schwarzenegger, Patrick’s sister and Arnold’s daughter.
Patrick Schwarzenegger, Patrick with son-in-law
Photo of several members of the film crew.
Front row (left to right): Jared Shaw (former SEAL, co-producer, technical advisor, Ernest Boozer Vickers), Jack Carr (former SEAL, executive producer and author), Chris Pratt (executive producer, James Rees ), Eric Schultz (stunts). Second row (left to right): Erin Switzer (ex-Marine), Ajay James (ex-SEAL), Patrick Schwarzenegger (Donnie Mitchell), Sean Lange (ex-Air Force), Justin Garza (ex-SEAL), Chris Alvarez (ex-SEAL), Ryan Sangster (ex-SEAL), Kenny Sherd (ex-SEAL), Casey Adams (stuntman), Zach Duham (stuntman).
The official trailer for the series.
The Terminal List
Director: David DiGiglio Cast: Chris Pratt, Constance Wu, Taylor Kitsch, Riley Keough, Arlo Merz, Jai Courtney, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jared Shaw, JD Pardo, LaMonica Garrett, Christina Vidal, Patrick Schwarzenegger
Series, USA, 2022, 55 min. Action drama, 1 season, 8 episodes