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Why Amazon Prime Video's The Terminal List Has Viewers So Divided

Ah, "The Terminal List." A tale of two Rotten Tomatoes ratings. You have the abysmal 39% Tomatometer critics rating, which is composed of reviews like Rebecca Onion's from Slate, saying: "The Terminal List is a classic American fantasy about the goodness of the SEALs, the corruption of high-level government officials and corporate shills, and the purifying quality of righteous violence." Followed by an incredible 95% audience score, which in comparison, features writeups like this one from user Paul J., saying: "Good writing, great action, well paced and highly recommended. Ignore the critics — this underlines the gap between culture politics and good entertainment." For some viewers, however, their feelings on "The Terminal List" have not been completely one-sided. Many actually have a love-hate relationship with the show, with their reasons being cited on social media.

"I just watched the entire series," said Redditor u/Electrical-Cherry-83 in a July 2022 post. "I thought it was both good and not so good."

Directed by Antoine Fuqua and based on the novel by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, "The Terminal List" is an eight-episode revenge story told through the eyes of fictional Lieutenant Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt), who is attempting to uncover a massive military conspiracy and get back at the people who murdered his family and entire Navy platoon during a covert mission. The series premiered on Amazon Prime Video on July 1, 2022, and immediately sparked both backlash and praise, with everyone being divided over the same major reasons.

Some fans believe The Terminal list is poorly made and has a weak story

Looking at social media, one of the biggest reasons people are torn over "The Terminal List" is its lack of realism and believability — along with its story, which many viewers feel is too thin and overused. 

"It was a good show but very unrealistic," said Redditor u/NeverBowDown247 in a July 2022 discussion thread. "Some of the dialogue was drawn out and him magically escaping the cops on the highway was kind of meh...It was a good show, but the writing felt lazy and predictable at times." Redditor u/igrvks1 wrote: "I really liked the premise of two first episodes, it seemed like a fresh take to make it uncertain if the big hero main character is actually just imagining things and cant really trust his memories or senses. But then it goes back to the good old 'there is a big conspiracy'-trope. Almost each episode we learn the conspiracy goes a bit deeper. It felt old back when '24' was a thing and it feels ancient now." One moment from "The Terminal List" that proved to be a major dealbreaker for many viewers was the MRI attack on Chris Pratt's James Reece, which pretty much spits in the face of science

"That scene with gunfight in the MRI room (which clearly has a sign saying MAGNET ALWAYS ON on the door) was just unbearably stupid," said one Redditor in a July 14 post. "The terminal list is dope so far, but y'all lost me on the shootout/fight scene in the MRI room," Twitter user @thekid_suds said. "It's a big a** magnet. Sigs, Glocks, and knives? And not one magnetic pull?" Other questionable scenes include James Reece causing a landslide with some C4 that he buried less than a foot into the ground, people surviving seemingly-deadly attacks and situations, and the constant use of incompetent cops and hitmen. But for many viewers, these were all things that they could suspend their disbelief for, which led to a greater appreciation for the series as a whole. 

Despite its flaws, fans still love The Terminal List for its entertainment value

While there's a lot not to like about "The Terminal List," there's also been loads of stuff that people love about the series — with many viewers choosing to not take it so seriously. 

"Besides the absurd shooting scene next to a MRI (a superconductor) and some stuff here and there, The Terminal List is a very entertaining show with some good action in it," wrote Twitter user @Frank_qwerty. Redditor u/Brendissimo in a July 5 post said: "I don't think it deserves to be dogpiled by critics like it has been...Overall, the action is quite well choreographed and the show has some interesting shots in it...Enjoyable military revenge thriller that mostly deals in familiar tropes but does some interesting stuff with Reece being an unreliable narrator." One thing that a lot of fans have been pointing out is how "The Terminal List" would have greatly benefited from being shorter and having less episodes. "8 hour long episodes felt way too long and repetitive for this story," said Redditor u/darkest4, adding: "Could have even been cut down into a 2 hour movie tbh." Redditor u/midfielder9 said: "Enjoyed the show but I agree it can be 3-4 episodes less." 

According to showrunner David DiGilio, "The Terminal List" was originally intended to be a feature film. It wasn't until Chris Pratt, who is also a producer, teamed up with Antoine Fuqua and began brainstorming about possible storylines that they decided to transform the project into a TV series. "They looked at the book and realized they needed more than two hours to honor the story," DiGilio told Game Rant in a June 2022 interview. "So, it had to be a TV series."