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‘The Terminal List’ Review: Chris Pratt Stars in Your Dad’s New Favorite Show

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‘The Terminal List’ Review: Chris Pratt Stars in Your Dad’s New Favorite Show

Whether you love or hate Chris Pratt, the career he’s built for himself is certainly respectable. Initially breaking out as the lovable doofus Andy Dwyer in Parks & Recreation, Pratt soon was on his way to becoming of the one biggest movie stars in the business. He’s Star-Lord in the MCU, is one of the main faces of the massively successful Jurassic World films, and has lent his vocal talents to critically acclaimed animated flicks like The Lego Movie and Onward. Even in more straightforward action films like The Tomorrow War or The Magnificent Seven, Pratt has managed to bring in some of that goofy everyman presence that made him a star. That makes his involvement in the new Prime Video series The Terminal List a bit of a head-scratcher.

It’s not that The Terminal List is a bad show; it’s insanely entertaining, with some expertly shot and well-choreographed action set-pieces, and a serviceable, albeit cliché tale of revenge. In other words, it’s one of those shows your dad will love watching alongside new episodes of Jack Ryan and Bosch. But its overt self-seriousness and commitment to grit can often get in the way of allowing Pratt to be himself onscreen, or at least bring some of that charm that fans of his are familiar with.

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RELATED: ‘The Terminal List’ Images Reveal an Intense and Gripping Military Thriller

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, The Terminal List centers around James Reece (Pratt), a Navy SEAL who returns home in a state of disarray after an operation gone terribly wrong leads to his entire platoon being ambushed. Upon his arrival back to the states, Reece begins to doubt his own memories and recollections of previous events and suspects that he may be one of those responsible for the attack on his platoon. When the blood and violence start to follow him back to the stateside, causing numerous personal tragedies and putting those he loves in danger, Reece takes matters into his own hands, embarking on a ruthlessly cruel path of revenge.


The Terminal List without a doubt delivers when focusing on its action. It’s a blend between Reacher and Commando, with shades of the anti-establishment and anti-war themes of First Blood. One may be quick to dismiss Pratt’s James Reece. He’s not your typical action hero, and some of the lengths he undertakes in his revenge tour would likely even make John Wick blush. There’s even a scene that feels straight out of Mortal Kombat, featuring Pratt’s Reece ripping out the intestines of an adversary and hanging him. It’s a pseudo-Punisher type tale and at times it’s hard to buy a typically likable presence like Pratt in this type of role. He has the physicality down, but there’s a bit of a disconnect, especially since the show’s writing often doesn’t do the audience any favors in knowing whether to condone the actions of his character. While it’s easy enough to buy into the misfortunes that plague its protagonist, the series never does enough to make James Reece feel human.


The supporting cast around Pratt is impressive, despite some being ludicrously underutilized. Taylor Kitsch‘s performance as Reece’s ally Ben Edwards is one of the biggest highlights of the series. Both Kitsch and Pratt are at their best in their scenes together, with authentic chemistry that makes the brotherly bond they have for one another palpable, and it’s their interactions that give the show the majority of its emotional elements. After initially risking overexposure in the early 2010s, it’s truly nice to see Kitsch getting these types of roles that genuinely bring out his charisma. Jai Courtney is another major standout as Steven Horn, a shady businessman who becomes one of Reece’s primary targets. Courtney seems to know the exact kind of project he’s in, feeling much more like the villain out of a nineties action flick but never feeling out of place, playing the kind of antagonist that you love to hate. Constance Wu is another winner amongst the ensemble as Katie Buranek, a journalist who becomes an unlikely ally to Reece. While an unlikely addition to the cast, Wu plays off both Pratt and Jeanne Tripplehorn extremely well. Riley Keough, who has proven in the past to be extremely talented, isn’t given much to do as Reece’s wife to make an impression, despite being listed in the main cast.

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It’s the generic nature of the writing and execution that is the biggest hurdle for The Terminal List and in the end, it just barely squeaks by. The story itself is insanely predictable and even casual viewers will likely see every twist and turn the series throws at them within the first two episodes. Shows like Reacher succeeded in providing successful misdirects and revelations that had audiences at home jumping to the next episode. With The Terminal List, those who are willing to commit to all 50+ minute episodes, will likely just be tuning in to see what kind of crazy things Pratt does next. The series is undeniably watchable and despite the length of each episode, the story never feels too overstuffed to the point where it drags, but it is also far too simple and any moments of genuine excitement aren’t there.


The Terminal List is not some disaster, nor is it unwatchable. In fact, it’ll likely garner a huge following and become a hit for the streamer, but a film might have been the more beneficial route to take, especially for Pratt’s performance and the overall story. Prime Video has delivered plenty of action-revenge tales; in fact, they seem to have a firm grasp on it with films like Without Remorse, much like Netflix has a grasp on the romantic comedy genre. But at the end of the day, a story this simple shouldn’t be this damn long. Pratt has long shown an interest in portraying military roles on screen, as can be seen through his social media as well as his roles in films like Zero Dark Thirty. It’s no mystery what attracted him to this kind of project, and he is at the point in his career where he is free to take risks, but it comes at the cost of losing that natural charisma he’s brought to other roles. As a show to watch alongside your dad during the summer months, it’ll likely do the trick, but this isn’t the kind of show that’ll garner much discussion — at least until its inevitable second season.

Rating: B-

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The Terminal List premieres July 1, exclusively on Prime Video.

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Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octane Thrill Ride

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Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octane Thrill Ride

Brad Pitt leads a wickedly funny ensemble in a high-octane actioner loaded with twists. Adapted from the 2010 Japanese novel by Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train has a bevy of disparate assassins manipulated by a mysterious criminal mastermind. Stuntman turned action director, David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde), stays true to form with unrelenting bloody and flamboyant violence. The codenamed characters get downright verbose before beating, stabbing, and shooting each other to bits. The loquacious banter tends to run long, but the narrative always bounces back with sharp reveals. Strap in for a helluva ride.

Ladybug (Pitt) boards the overnight bullet train to Tokyo with a newfound sense of self. He’s chock-full of philosophy after recovering from a near fatal ambush. Ladybug ignores his unseen handler’s advice to take a gun. Surely any issues can be resolved peacefully. The job seems straightforward enough. Steal a briefcase with a sticker and exit at the next stop.

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Also on board are Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), ruthless “twins” known for their brutal methods. Lemon is obsessed with the British children’s show “Thomas & Friends”. He reads people by comparing them to the anthropomorphized trains. The twins are escorting the previously kidnapped son (Logan Lerman) of a powerful gangster, the White Death (Michael Shannon).

None of the hired guns are aware of the Father, aka Yuichi Kimura’s (Andrew Koji), mission. He’s out for vengeance but foolishly runs into a deceptive figure. The Prince (Joey King) has a score to settle with the White Death. Meanwhile, the Wolf (Bad Bunny) joins the fray after his truly horrific Mexican wedding. He’s also ready for serious comeuppance. Ladybug quickly realizes they’re all unwitting pawns in a dangerous game. Someone has packed the train with killers for an unknown purpose. He desperately wants to get off but can’t seem to escape the carnage.


Related: I Love My Dad Review: Patton Oswalt’s Delightfully Cringeworthy Catfishing Comedy

Cast of Bullet Train

Bullet Train introduces the cast with splashy entrances that flashes back to their dark pasts. The murderous montages are informative but don’t fill in every gap. The script doles out more critical information as the bodies pile up. Alliances bounce back and forth as everyone wonders who’s actually pulling the strings. The whodunit element works well as the audience becomes embroiled in a series of betrayals. You don’t have a sense of the plot’s true trajectory until the third act. The film builds to a showdown that delivers a huge action payoff.

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Bullet Train has complex characters that each contribute slices of devilish humor. Brad Pitt preaching self-help and understanding is an effective gag throughout. Brian Tyree Henry’s constant comparisons to Thomas & Friends aren’t as comical but play an important role in the story. There are a lot of moving parts. Leitch, who worked as Pitt’s stunt double for years, is clearly fond of his players. He gives everyone a chance to babble incessantly. I would have trimmed the dialogue to be more incisive.


The action scenes are worth the price of admission. Leitch has a great eye for mixing stylized set pieces with intimate fights. He knows when to go big and small. You never feel let down by his pacing. There’s always the right amount of adrenaline to keep your pulse pumping. Bullet Train is another feather in a skilled filmmaker’s cap. Watch out for A-list cameos and a mid-credits scene.

Bullet Train is a production of Columbia Pictures, Fuqua Films, and 87North Productions. It will be released theatrically on August 5th from Sony Pictures.

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Bullet Train Review: Brad Pitt Has A Blast In The Silly And Badass Action Comedy

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Bullet Train Review: Brad Pitt Has A Blast In The Silly And Badass Action Comedy

If orchestrated properly, with adjusted stakes, tone, and atmosphere, there can be a beautiful, symbiotic relationship between intense action and comedy. A hero pulling off a rapid and vicious series of blows against an opponent can be savage and dramatic in one context, but it can also be so deliriously awesome that an audience’s first reaction is to laugh. Fast paced martial arts can be used for wonderful physical humor (see: the legendary career of Jackie Chan), and the best examples provide dual layers of entertainment: you marvel at the skill in all the ass-kicking, and cackle at the creativity in the choreography.

This is a sweet spot that filmmaker David Leitch knows well. After peppering funny moments in John Wick and Atomic Blonde at the start of his directorial career, he brilliantly utilized the action/comedy weapon that is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2, and crafted some excellent physicality with the unique styles of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. His latest, Bullet Train, is another effort that takes aim at that particular tonal target, this time with his most expansive ensemble yet, and it’s another success. With a sensibility that could be described as early Guy Ritchie with more specific action focus, it’s a movie that is both silly and skilled and inspires its primary star in particular to do energetic and engaging work.

Based on the novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, the film weaves multiple narrative threads through the cars of the titular bullet train as it speeds through the country of Japan – all of the protagonists being killers with their own particular reason and motivation for being aboard. Ladybug (Brad Pitt), for example, is a hired gun who has been tasked by his handler (Sandra Bullock) to perform what sounds like a simple job: find a briefcase marked with a train sticker and steal it. What he doesn’t know, though, is that said briefcase belongs to a pair of British hit men named Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and that the contents include the recovered ransom for the kidnapped son (Logan Lerman) of a powerful crime lord known as The White Death.

Meanwhile, Kimura a.k.a. The Father (Andrew Koji) is on the bullet train because he is on a mission of vengeance – hunting down the person responsible for nearly killing his son by pushing the boy off of a building. What he doesn’t expect is that the individual he is looking for is a young woman identified as The Prince (Joey King), and that she has purposefully gotten him on the high speed rail with the intention of forcing him to execute an assassination attempt.

And while five killers sharing the space would be enough for most movies, Bullet Train actually has even more that pop in and surprise throughout the film’s runtime – and their roles are worth keeping as a secret pre-release.

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Bullet Train has a chaotic storyline, but the pieces properly connect as a fun puzzle.

Narratively speaking, Bullet Train is a messy movie to put together, as focus briskly ping-pongs between the different players, but everything stays in harmony as the film persistently finds ways to build on each protagonist’s arc. This is particularly cool later in the movie as different characters are drawn together from individual angles and instant conflict is generated from their simple interaction.

The film is at its best when it keeps things simple, but it does let things go off the rails at times (if you’ll pardon the pun). This is especially true as it gets into the third act and it tries to pull off stunts like one of the leads leaping from a platform on to the back of the train as it leaves a station; it’s both a problem for the “rules” of the universe and in its strained use of visual effects. The movie also frequently tries to get a bit too cute and Tarantino-esque with what are admittedly familiar-but-not-quite-stock characters – the most prominent example being an ongoing and quickly tiresome gag with Lemon explaining that he understands people through the lens of Thomas The Tank Engine.

Primarily, though, it’s a movie that is able to generate its entertainment with engaging and quippy dynamics between the members of the ensemble, both when they are talking out their issues and trying to kill one another.

David Leitch puts a lot of exciting and weird fights in a confined space, and is at its best when working with a “less is more” philosophy.

Coming from a stunt background, both as a performer and a coordinator, David Leitch’s bread and butter remains deftly and specifically choreographed action sequences, and Bullet Train proves to be a terrific challenge and opportunity for his skills. Regardless of where you are in the titular transport, space is not a luxury, and the best fights in the movie are those that are being fought only between the characters, but against the limitations provided by the location.

There are guns, knives and explosives in the mix, but Bullet Train also has some terrific “found item” moments that add spice and humor to the various showdowns, whether it’s a pocketed cell phone saving a character’s life from a blade, a laptop making for a solid cudgel, a water bottle making for a useful projectile, or a venomous snake showing up at a perfect moment.

Once again we see David Leitch work a special magic turning dramatic and comedic actors into badasses with slick and stylish moves, and while everyone shows off some terrific skills, it’s very much the Brad Pitt show at the end of the day.

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Brad Pitt’s joy in the role of Ladybug is palpable.

At the nexus of everything good in Bullet Train is Brad Pitt, who very clearly had a blast reuniting with David Leitch (who performed the actor’s stunts in films including Fight Club, The Mexican, Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Troy). He’s a joy to watch in action not just because of the talented craft he demonstrates in his physicality, but how he channels the psychology of the character. As we meet him, Ladybug is reluctantly getting back into his business following a number of important breakthroughs with his therapist, and Pitt does a fantastic job conveying that he doesn’t ever want to choose violence as a first answer – both via verbal pleas and defense-heavy moves. Action/comedy is a genre he should revisit a lot more often.

Bullet Train doesn’t aim to revolutionize hitman movies, but instead plays with a tongue-in-cheek vibe that lets you recognize the tropes and appreciate how the film plays with them. It’s a slick/goofy action movie that is both contained and wild, and a satisfying late summer release.

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Luck Review: A Spectacular Debut Film from Skydance Animation

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Luck Review: A Spectacular Debut Film from Skydance Animation

The world’s unluckiest woman enters a magical land to change the fortunes of a fellow orphan. Luck will make you smile and possibly shed a few tears. The big-budget, CGI animated fantasy shines a spotlight on needy children while telling a truly original story. An assortment of lucky critters and creatures dazzle in a spectacular setting. The highly imaginative narrative gives age-old superstitions a dynamic new spin. Luck is a brilliant first film from Skydance Animation.

Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) reaches her eighteenth birthday with trepidation. She’s finally aged out of the foster care system. Sam never found her “forever family”. She spent her entire life living in orphanages. It doesn’t help that Sam has the worst luck. Everything she does or touches ends in abject disaster. Her only thoughts are for young Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), Sam’s roommate at the girls home. Sam has been set up with a job and tiny apartment. She has to stay in school and employed to remain housed.

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Sam’s first day at Marv’s (Lil Rel Howery) floral shop goes exactly as expected. She sadly eats dinner sitting on a sidewalk. Sam learns that Hazel’s weekend trip with a foster family was canceled. She gives half of her sandwich to a curious black cat. It scampers away but leaves a strange penny behind.

The following day is a revelation. Sam’s lucky penny changes everything. Her ecstatic mood sours when she loses the penny in spectacular fashion. Stewing on the sidewalk, Sam’s surprised when the black cat returns. She’s astonished when Bob (Simon Pegg) asks for his penny. The “travel penny” is the only way a creature from the Land of the Luck stays safe in the human world. She follows an unnerved Bob back through the portal to the Land of Luck. Sam has to find another lucky penny to help Hazel. Bob reluctantly agrees, but they have to be careful. Misdeeds end up in banishment to Bad Luck.

Related: Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octaine Thrill Ride

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The Land of Luck

The Land of Luck is an absolute joy to behold. Leprechauns, cats, pigs, and rabbits, lucky creatures, are the bureaucrats tasked with spreading good fortune. Bringing Sam in such a place is a recipe for absolute chaos. Bob, and his leprechaun assistant Gerry’s (Colin O’Donoghue), efforts to contain Sam’s bad luck will have audiences in stitches. I’m still chuckling at Sam’s “Latvian leprechaun” disguise; their harebrained excuse for why she’s so much bigger than everyone else.

Luck’s serious themes are artfully addressed. Sam’s lonely childhood, and her desperate efforts to change Hazel’s, brings a melancholic touch to the narrative. The film reminds us to not take love and family for granted. Every kid deserves care, nurturing, and a safe place to grow. It shouldn’t take luck or chance for a child to find a “forever home”.

Insert sigh here. Recent headlines concerning John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars) will undoubtedly cloud this film’s release. The genius storyteller and animator behind Pixar’s success left to head Skydance Animation after awful “Me Too” allegations. He’s brought his incredible talent to Luck, and it shows. This wonderful film deserves to be judged on its own merits. Sometimes we must divorce ourselves from art and the personality of the artist.

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Luck is a production of Skydance Animation and Apple Original Films. It will have an exclusive Apple TV+ premiere on August 5th.

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