Chris Pratt is compelling, powerful—you might even say possessed—and imminently watchable in The Terminal List. His portrayal of Lt. Cmdr. James Reece resonates with fans of the 2013 Jack Carr novel of the same name, as Pratt brings something to the role that illuminates the grim, relentless hero in his first appearance.
Carr knows his material. A former Lt. Cmdr. SEAL team leader, Carr's first-hand knowledge of that world is what makes the books such heavy-hitting page-turners. The level of detail imbues his writing with vibrancy and power, and it's challenging to capture a complex literary action hero as well as Pratt has.
Reece is a haunted, vengeful revenant who has lost everything that defined the boundaries of his accomplished life. The sole survivor of his platoon, he returns home from a failed mission with only wounds and a fractured recollection of the event.
Though the details are hazy, there is enough to convince him of treachery—and he is soon proved right in the most devastating way. Reece spends eight episodes uncovering clues that lead him to become a fugitive nemesis, stalking the parties who so wronged him and those he loved.
Anyone who has already binged the first season is doubtless wondering when season two will air. Details surrounding that are as blurry as Reece's memory, but Amazon's Terminal is a hit with fans, and (unlike rival Netflix), Amazon is not in the practice of canceling hit shows.
Critics gotta criticize, and the series has a puzzlingly low 36 percent Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The pundits must be as confused as Reece was in the first episode, as the series has a 93 percent audience approval rating—leading many to believe a second season is inevitable.
There's nothing for fans to do but hurry up and wait. With mystery and lurking menace inherent reminiscent of The Terminal List, the motion picture, book, and podcast offerings in the following list should make the downtime easier to bear.
Analyst's Notebook (read)
Named one of the "Ten Best Political Thrillers Ever" by Barnes and Noble, this was Thor's debut novel and the first in the Scot Harvath series. The tale now comprises twenty-one books in total, the most recent having just been published.
In addition to having the most badass last name in the industry, Thor was best
known for the PBS television series Traveling Lite prior to penning Lions. He has gone on to become a fixture in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.There are striking parallels between Lions of Lucerne and The Terminal List. Both feature heroes who are the sole survivors of terrorist attacks, and both men become fugitives from the governments they were once sworn to protect. Read here.
Though it was the twelfth book to be released in the Mitch Rapp series, the story takes place first in the arc. The 2017 film adaptation isn't as terrible as its reviews (Michael Keaton is perennially underrated), but it's not Flynn's story. Significant deviations from the book change much of what makes the tale such a
gem. Flynn set Assassin in the early 1990s, giving the author and his grateful readership a depth of perspective that makes it an uncommonly engrossing and profound thriller. The action starts with the '88 Lockerbie Bombing, an often-overlooked event that set the stage for the kind of asymmetrical warfare with which we have all become far too familiar. Whether you start your Mitch Rapp journey here or with 1999's Transfer of Power, there's a lot of material to cover. Though Flynn passed away in 2013, tragically young at 47, the Rapp saga continues under the pen of Kyle Mills, who has won over fans and critics alike with his faithful attention to the work that came before. Read here.
I recommend Graham Greene's work to fans of this genre whenever I can—with the caveat that this is considered capital-L Literature and might be a bit carefully paced for modern tastes. There's even a Penguin Classics edition of it, and if that hasn't put you off, you might find this smoldering, intense roman a clef the
perfect thing to read on a quiet evening. Set in Haiti during the brutal, bloody reign of Papa Doc Duvalier, the novel features all of Greene's trademark intrigue, obfuscation, and "wrong time, wrong place" tragedy. Characters with what might as well be noms de guerre—Mr. Brown, Major Jones, and Mr. Smith—have a studied anonymity that masks quiet and carefully guarded desperation. The intricate and menacing subtleties of Greene's Comedians will have you guessing until the final punchline. Read here.
The eleventh book in the Gray Man series is, like American Assassin, a prequel in the action of a familiar story. The first novel in this series is the basis of the 2022 Ryan Gosling vehicle, but Sierra Six is where that protagonist's story starts.
The titular Gray Man wasn't always as stonily cold and unknowable. Readers of
the series who know the career asset as the archetypal intelligence officer, trained to blend into the background, might find his origin story surprisingly poignant. When he still had a name, this junior member of a covert intelligence op was vulnerable enough to risk love—though all he would realize from it was a loss that propelled him into a life devoid of mercy. Read here.
The details James Reece can't remember clearly make the beginnings of his story haunting. In David Baldacci's entrée into a series that would be a bit of a departure for this established author, it is what cannot be forgotten that torments.
Older fans may remember Baldacci's '96 tome Absolute Power and the film Clint
Eastwood would direct and star in that followed. Power catapulted the young author to fame with its tale of intrigue at the highest levels. Memory Man is more personal and intimate, and as well-received, as his first effort was, many consider this to be his finest work. Baldacci’s ex-cop-turned-P.I. Amos Decker has a freakishly defining gift from a traumatic brain injury sustained during his incredibly brief career with the Cleveland Browns. The injury left Decker with synesthesia, a neurological condition that causes him to experience numbers and feelings as colors. Five is brown, nine is violet, and the murders which took his family from him are a haunting blue that tinges his excruciatingly perfect memory of the event. The career-ending blind side also curses Decker with another condition: hyperthymesia, the uncanny ability to remember with perfect clarity even the smallest detail of anything he has seen. This propels him through the events of Memory Man in unforgettable and powerful ways, making for a read that will stay with you. Read here.
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Video Audits (watch)
Though it doesn't have political intrigue and espionage themes, this lesser-known tale is driven by an unquenchable thirst for vengeance obstructed by a profound and abiding defect of memory. This was director Christopher Nolan's second film, and though he would revisit the themes of shifting realities and
uncertain timelines in The Prestige, Inception, and Tenet, he cut his teeth on these haunting concepts in this film, based on a short story by his brother Jonathan. Leonard Shelby (memorably played by Guy Pierce) is haunted by the last thing he can ever remember for longer than a moment: the shadowy assailant that took his wife's life and cost him the ability to form new memories. The attack left him with anterograde amnesia, a condition that propels him into a future he can never fully know. He develops systems to adjust and adapt—all while on the hunt to find his wife's killer and avenge her death. Watch here.
Director Francis Ford Coppola singles this film out as his favorite of all his movies—that's got to grab your attention, even if you're not a Coppola fan.
Gene Hackman is brilliant as surveillance expert Harry Caul, whose services are contracted by a mysterious client acting through a gruff and sinister aide. You'll
find yourself gasping in recognition at said aide—a young Harrison Ford several years before being propelled to fame in a far, far away galaxy. Of note is Caul's associate Stan, played by the talented John Cazale in the second film of his tragically brief career, and Robert Duvall as "the Director" who sets the story in motion. A must-see for anyone fond of the gritty, nuts-and-bolts side of intelligence gathering, the film spirals into an obsessive and troubling paranoia as Caul frantically tries to decode the true nature of the imbroglio in which he finds himself unwittingly ensnared. Watch here.
Though working in intelligence, Joe Turner lives a quiet, tranquil life "in the rear with the gear" as an erudite and bookish codebreaker for the CIA. That all changes when he shows up —fashionably late—at his workplace in an anonymous New York City brownstone to find unknown shooters have gunned
down every last one of his colleagues. Joe (played by Robert Redford in one of his best performances) follows protocol, evades detection, and immediately notifies his section chief of the bloodbath—only to learn that someone higher up the chain has a hand in the murders. An unwilling moving target, he goes to the ground with a reluctant new friend played by Faye Dunaway and loosely based on famed New York photographer Diane Arbus. Max von Sydow is delightfully chilling as an impersonal, by-the-book assassin who stalks Joe as he struggles to uncover the rogue actors before they can permanently end his inquiries.
When the Soviet Union shoots down a U2 spy plane on a high-altitude reconnaissance mission and captures its pilot Francis Gary Powers, the CIA calls on former Nuremberg prosecutor-turned-negotiator James Donovan, played with stately confidence by Tom Hanks. As gorgeous as it is tense, this intelligent
Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield is based on the true story of one of America's most gruesome killers, and it's sure to send shivers down your spine. Ed Gein was responsible for a string of murders in the late 1950s that left his rural Wisconsin town, and the rest of America, in shock. He was nicknamed "The
James Spader is brilliant as master criminal Raymond "Red" Reddington in this long-running Netflix series, also available on Peacock. Before his extensive forays into extralegal affairs, Reddington was a U.S. Navy officer with a storied carrier. After evading the FBI for two decades and ending up on the "Ten Most Wanted List" of law enforcement agencies from sea to shining sea, he surrenders to the FBI—with conditions. With parallels to Silence of the Lambs and the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, this series is sure to entertain and engage—and is still in production, guaranteeing future episodes once the backlog has been cleared. Though The Terminal List may be over—for now—there is plenty to keep you engrossed and engaged while you wait for Reece's inevitable return. Until then, the twists and turns of these collected stories should remind you of what made Terminal such compelling viewing. Watch here.
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VoiceRT Intercepts (listen)
We had to include this. The former Navy SEAL and the best-selling author provides insider information and exclusive backstage access to the Amazon series. Carr is joined by guests like showrunner David DiGilio and former SEAL and technical advisor Jared Shaw for a riveting look at everything that makes
this series a fan favorite. From details of the real-world operations that inspired Carr's writing to a blow-by-blow recounting of elements like fight choreography, cinematography, and production details, fans of the show who have lingering questions will want to tune in for the episodic breakdown and expert analysis. Listen here.
2. No Limits: The Thriller Podcast, ThrillerPod.com
This podcast focuses on the titans of the thriller genre whose work appears throughout this list. Through multiple seasons, creators and superfans Chris and Mike take a close and loving look at the works of Jack Carr, Mark Greany, Brad Thor, and Vince Flynn. This podcast is for fans, by fans, and will leave even die-
hard enthusiasts entertained, informed, and wanting more. Fair warning—there are spoilers throughout, and the podcasts are meant to be heard after you have enjoyed the books, movies, or shows discussed.
Another "how could we not" inclusion, this podcast by The Terminal List author is fascinating, entertaining, and full of the kind of gritty "been there, done that" details that only a former operator would know. Carr was a Navy SEAL for twenty years, and the former sniper-turned-Task Unit Commander is candid, honest,
4. The Live Drop, Mark Valley
Fans of the genre who want more intel on the real-world operations that inspired their favorite fiction will want to check out this podcast, which recounts stories from the shadowy world of espionage, intelligence, and spycraft. From initial assessment to after-action debrief, this podcast offers the sort of details that will
have fans coming back for each episode as soon as its handlers make the rendezvous and plant the intel. This one is a winner—a genuinely brilliant, illuminating look into this dark and complex subject.
Another brilliant offering for anyone interested in what goes on in the intelligence world, The Black Spy makes the clandestine accessible with insight and analysis into every aspect of the secret world of covert operations, black budgets, PsyOps, and everything that goes into the work. Carlton is an ex-officer and