'A slab of barely heated red meat': Critics rip apart Prime Video's new action thriller

The Terminal List
(Image credit: Prime Video)

The Terminal List, Prime Video's new military thriller, has had a bit of a critical drubbing. 

The show, which is led by Jurassic World: Dominion star Chris Pratt, premiered on July 1 on Prime Video, backed by a large marketing campaign featuring a downbeat Pratt staring into the middle distance.  

The Terminal List is based on the novel of the same name by Jack Carr and follows Pratt's Lieutenant Commander James Reece, a US Navy SEAL who is left bereft after his platoon is ambushed while on a covert mission.  

Reece is the only survivor from the mission, and, as he tries to piece together the truth about what happened, his version of events doesn't match up with the account given by the Navy's top brass. So, naturally, the beginnings of a deadly conspiracy start to form. 

Pratt, who was paid a reported $1.4 million for each episode of The Terminal List, takes the starring role in a cast that also includes Hustlers' Constance Wu, Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch, Riley Keough and The Suicide Squad's Jai Courtney. 

Antoine Fuqua, director of The Equalizer and Oscar-winner Training Day, took charge of the first episode, with David DiGilio, who worked on piratey thriller Crossbones, acting as showrunner. 

The show's eight episodes all dropped on July 1, but is it worth a watch? Well, if you ask the critics, then the answer is a firm no. 

What have they said?

The show's ratings aren't total trash, but they aren't good, either – The Terminal List currently sports a rating of 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. Interestingly, though, the show's audience score is much higher, at 92%, so it appears to be striking a chord with some. 

The general consensus is that the series, which is very much in the macho, grim, stoic military thriller mold (similar to Prime Video's previous Jack Ryan show), is fine, but not as good as what's come before it. It's also, whisper it, a bit boring...

The Guardian's Benjamin Lee was among the harshest critics, giving The Terminal List one star and calling the show a "...low-stakes post-barbecue watch, a slab of barely heated red meat that’s all extremely hard-to-chew gristle", while The Daily Beast's Nick Schager went in just as hard, describing the series as an "...unhinged right-wing revenge fantasy."

Decider's Joel Keller told viewers to skip it, writing that "Life right now is pretty grim as it is; we don’t need this much monotonous darkness in our entertainment, too". The Independent's Nick Hilton called the show "...a constant, attritional battle against forgetting what on earth is going on", while The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg summed up his review by calling The Terminal List a "...zero-fat, zero-humor vehicle."

IGN Movies' Matt Fowler was among the few reviewers with something good to say, but even he criticised the show's length and lack of any light among the relentless shade. 

It's not looking good for a second season, then?

Not so fast. As we said, the audience reactions to The Terminal List have been rather good thus far, and Carr's series of novels leaves four more to adapt – so there's plenty of raw material. 

As well as that, Pratt and Prime Video currently have a great working relationship. He made The Tomorrow War for Amazon and is expected to make a sequel to that gigantic alien-squishing action thrillride. 

Amazon clearly sees value in military thrillers – it already has Reacher and Jack Ryan, which is expected to get a spin-off, in its repertoire. The Terminal List fits squarely in that genre, so if audiences watch it, you can bet the streamer will make more. 

Looking for another Prime Video show? Here's our round-up of the Top 20...

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…