Why The Terminal List Works Better as a Series Than a Movie


  • The Terminal List benefits from being a series as it has enough time for its plot and subplots to unravel, adding twists and changes to the storyline.
  • Chris Pratt’s serious and intense performance in The Terminal List showcases his talent for depicting trauma, grief, vengeance, and frustration, allowing viewers to gradually digest and accustom themselves to his more serious acting.
  • Being a series rather than a film allows The Terminal List to build and develop the arcs of other characters, giving them depth and exploring their personal lives beyond their roles in the story.

The Terminal List, a military thriller series starring and executive produced by Chris Pratt, debuted on Prime Video in July 2023. The series is based on a novel of the same name by Jack Carr and follows Pratt’s character, James Reece, a Navy SEAL, as he deals not only with the trauma of having lost his entire platoon while on a mission but also the trauma of having his wife and daughter murdered in their family home. Reece embarks on a mission of vengeance, out to kill everyone who was behind the murder of his family while simultaneously trying to uncover the conspiracy behind the deaths.

At present, quite a few titles are opting to take to screens as series rather than films, and many have found success by choosing to do so. The Terminal List is one such show, which, with its plot and cast, many feel could have even been a film. However, taking the route of a series has given The Terminal List many advantages, and ultimately, it looks as though the project works better as a series than as a movie. Season 1 comprises eight episodes, each with a runtime of nearly one hour.

Allows More Time for the Plot to Unravel

The Terminal List

A former Navy SEAL officer investigates why his entire platoon was ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Starring Chris Pratt

Release Date
July 1, 2022

Taylor Kitsch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Riley Keough, Chris Pratt

Drama, Action, Thriller


Amazon Studios, Civic Center Media, Hill District Media

One benefit that The Terminal List has availed itself of by choosing to be a show is time. Thanks to having eight lengthy episodes, the series has enough time for its plot and subplots to unravel. From having his SEAL platoon killed and finding his wife and daughter murdered to discovering that the deaths were related to a deeper conspiracy involving corporates and his commanding officers, Reece deals with plot twist after plot twist. He even has to deal with having a brain tumor and episodes related to it while planning out his revenge mission.

The longer runtime of the series, almost eight hours in Season 1 compared to the two or so hours that a film would have offered, also gives The Terminal List a sense of unpredictability that keeps viewers hooked on the show. The unpredictability arises from the series having the length to add as many twists and changes as it sees fit to the storyline. Doing so has allowed the show’s first season to weave a diverse and compelling narrative.

Chris Pratt’s Talent on Full Display

Audiences are less accustomed to seeing Chris Pratt take on serious, heavy roles in films and TV series. The actor is widely known for his roles in The Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and Parks and Recreation. Through his characters, he has had the opportunity to be witty, charming, and bring a certain degree of humor to most of his roles. However, in stark contrast to his previous works, The Terminal List leaves no space for wit or charm. Instead, Pratt’s Reece is stoic and unwavering in his efforts to mete out justice.

Related: 8 Shows Like The Terminal List to Watch Next

Given Pratt’s out-of-the-ordinary persona in The Terminal List, the project being a series allows viewers to gradually digest and accustom themselves to Pratt’s more serious form of acting. The producers of the series are also able to delve into Pratt’s depiction of Reece, highlighting the actor’s capability to depict trauma, grief, vengeance, confusion, and frustration. With Reece going through several life-altering events throughout Season 1 of The Terminal List, the series can expand and focus on each event without giving off the feeling of being rushed. This attention to detail might not have been possible if The Terminal List were a film instead of a show.

Able to Build the Arcs of Other Characters

The fact that The Terminal List is a series rather than a film also allows it the space to work on the progression and development of characters other than Pratt’s. The series has a talented combination of names, including Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, John Carter) as Ben Edwards, a close friend of Reece and also a former military man; Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh Off The Boat) as Katie Buranek, a journalist intent on digging up the truth; and Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, Spartacus) as Steve Horn, the CEO of a firm that deals in pharmaceuticals and is connected to the military.

Although focusing mainly on the titular character of James Reece, the series can also provide a good amount of attention to building the arcs of other characters. For instance, viewers are given a glimpse into the personal life of Katie Buranek, taking her character beyond the identity of a journalist.

Katie’s brother is introduced in the series, providing audiences with a backstory into Katie’s past and her relationship with her family. Ben Edwards is also developed as a character with insight into his CIA background, ultimately leading up to the shock ending of the season. Other characters’ arcs are gradually built without giving off a sense of being rushed. Moreover, the series also has the ability to bring in new characters unhurriedly in a manner that a film would not have allowed for.

Related: Chris Pratt’s Garfield Role Reveals a Larger Problem in Hollywood

The time allowed for the plot to unravel, the opportunity to delve into Pratt’s acting skills, and the chance to unhurriedly build other characters’ arcs are a few reasons why The Terminal List works better as a series than a film. Viewers have been hooked on the military thriller and are now eagerly anticipating the confirmed second season of the series and the prequel that is reportedly in development. However, with a production timeline for the new season not being confirmed at the time of writing, there could be a long wait ahead.

Stream The Terminal List on Prime Video


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