May 25, 2024

THE TERMINAL LIST (2022) – An excuse for gratuitous violence

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Rating: ⭐⭐

The Terminal List follows the tired and often used plot involving the vengeance carried out by an otherwise decent soldier after his family was killed as part of a bigger conspiracy. The hero then turns judge, jury and executioner, as he becomes a one man vigilante to exact “justice” to the people who have wronged him. Chris Pratt has the physique and star presence to play the Navy SEAL soldier and does his best to look and act the part of a seasoned soldier who is a one man killing machine. However, he seem to have made some bad choices apart from his involvement with Marvel. The ill conceived Tomorrow War from Netflix comes to mind.

The problem I have with The Terminal List is how cliched everything feels. The characters are all one-dimensional. They are either the good guys or the bad guys. Chris Pratt is made to look at his list of paper with regular intervals, with the names of people he wants to kill, and dutifully crosses each name off after each increasingly violent kill. Honestly I don’t think this is how real people would behave. I can’t help feeling that this is all just an excuse for violence. Nothing can justify for the torture and gruesome way in which Chris would gleefully kill off his enemies. Along the way countless nameless people gets killed off without any consequences. Just collateral damage I guess. If we were to sympathize with our main character’s revenge, then, we can probably imagine that each of the people who got killed along the way could in turn provide grounds for more vigilantes on the loose. Imagine a spin off series that features the son of one of the guards or bystanders killed by Chris’s character, who decides to take revenge over the death of his father. We can easily have him make his own terminal list of everyone who had helped in the murders committed. Somehow the film makers here seem to equate odious violence, blazing guns, and colliding vehicles as entertainment! I admit these could sometimes work provided they have a solid story to support. Perhaps this series is acting like a subtle social commentary on America’s obsession with firearms and violence against innocent people. Who needs terrorists when you have all these mad people around with guns.

The inclusion of the talented Constance Wu in the cast was a bit of a waste. She plays a relentless (and reckless) newspaper reported is welcomed. However, I get the feeling her character’s purpose was beyond that of just a vital support to Chris’s character. Having her depict a strong and determined ally is the series showing its inclusivity to women as well as to the Asian community. The final twist at the end in the reveal of surprise baddie makes little sense apart from giving the series an excuse to provide one final “cheap” plot twist.

But strangely in spite of all my complaints I still found myself watching the series one episode after another and finishing it. I guess I was watching and waiting for it to turn around and do something to surprise me but alas that wasn’t the case.

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