The Terminal List and The Tomorrow War: Chris Pratt's continued journey of safe, boring choices - petsitterbank

The Terminal List and The Tomorrow War: Chris Pratt’s continued journey of safe, boring choices

For someone whose star shines so bright, Chris Pratt has a knack for making the most naff decisions.

Were you surprised to find new action series The Terminal List is an entirely different thing to The Tomorrow War?

Both Amazon Prime Video titles star Chris Pratt as some sort of action hero, with generic names and cool-toned marketing campaigns that are indiscernible from each other.

For clarification, The Tomorrow War was a big budget Amazon Prime movie which starred Pratt as a military veteran and father of a daughter who must shoot his way through his enemies. The Terminal List is a big budget Amazon Prime series which stars Pratt as a serving military special ops soldier and father of a daughter who must shoot his way through his enemies.

In The Tomorrow Warthose enemies are aliens and in The Terminal Listthose enemies are a governmental, corporate and military conspiracy.

The two are actually quite different in story and tone, but you would never know it if you hadn’t spent 10-plus hours combing through both of them.

The Tomorrow War was overwhelming and bonkers whereas The Terminal List is boring and drawn out – there is no reason for the latter to have been an eight-part series, it’s so thin and unappealing, it should’ve been a one-and-done under-two-hours movie.

The Terminal List spends an entire hour-long episode stuck with Pratt’s character in the woods as he dodges a platoon of soldiers. The action varies from Pratt grunting on the ground to Pratt grunting while running through rough terrain. It’s the opposite of riveting or suspenseful.

The fact The Terminal List is so generic and interchangeable with The Tomorrow War points to a wider creative malaise for the A-lister: Pratt makes terrible career choices.

OK, maybe terrible career choices have a few different facets. Perhaps they’re not terrible choices if all Pratt cares about is money. In that case, sure, have at it. Make as many uninspiring and artistically bankrupt movies and TV shows you want.

But if Pratt cares at all about the depth and breadth of his work beyond the most mediocre and forgettable criteria, then he is failing on most fronts. Pratt’s choices don’t challenge him dramatically or comically. He’s risk averse, choosing only “safe” roles in “safe” projects that demand nothing of him that he hasn’t done before.

Let’s take a gainer at his career.

I’ve started out in teen dramas Everwood and The OC before hitting it big as the loveable doofus Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation.

After years of goodwill generated from portraying a teddy bear on TV plus a bunch of supporting gigs in the likes of Zero Dark Thirty, Her and The Five-Year EngagementPratt finally made the leap to leading man status.

First there was as the voice of Emmett in The Lego Moviewhich even though it wasn’t his face, his great voice performance won him legions of new fans.

It was Guardians of the Galaxy that really cemented his star. As Star-Lord / Peter Quill, Pratt had found the role that best suited his talents to date. He had the comedic timing for James Gunn’s script and direction, a touch of petulance for Star-Lord’s arrested personality development and enough action skills to be believable. And the dramatic demands were not insurmountable.

He also got really jacked and everyone started paying attention to Pratt as more than just likeable comedic relief.

That was in 2014. And since then, Pratt has nothing to extend himself, preferring to pad out his release schedule with franchise entries such as more Marvel movies, the Jurassic World trilogy, a Lego sequel and a Magnificent Seven remake

His performances in passengers, The Tomorrow War, The Kid and The Terminal List make it clear you are not watching Jim Preston, Dan Forester, Grant Cutler and James Reece, you’re always watching Chris Pratt being Chris Pratt.

And he’ll bring that same Pratt-iness to voice roles in garfield and Mario – more examples of Pratt’s safe career choices.

If there’s one thing The Terminal List that might verge on risky is the character he plays does enough terrible things that makes you feel that he’s no longer the hero of the story – although that may not be intentional and merely a consequence of bad writing and poor plotting.

Pratt isn’t alone in this, not even among the four Hollywood Chrises. Chris Hemsworth is similarly risk-averse in the projects he chooses. Outside of the Thor movies and the two movies he made with Drew Goddard (one of which, The Cabin in the Woodshe did in his pre-MCU days), his choices are the same boring, unchallenging roles.

Hemsworth’s upcoming role in Mad Max: Furiosa may prove this wrong – hopefully.

But look to Chris Pine and Chris Evans and you can see a variety of projects that hint at greater creative and intellectual curiosity than their counterparts.

Pine did Taylor Sheridan’s superb western Hell or High Water, playing a desperate man driven to rob banks. He also played a spy in the cat-and-mouse espionage and romantic thriller All the Old Knivesand starred in and produced the mid-century set crime drama I Am the Night.

Evans gleefully played against type in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (and rocked a cream cableknit jumper in the process), played a dad in the quiet, gentle drama gifted and embodied a very different kind of father in Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob.

Pratt may be the nicest person on Earth, and certainly many of his co-workers suggest he is, but every time he drops another project, it doesn’t stir any excitement. You want to root for his work but he makes it so hard.

We’ve come to expect only the most generic, IP-driven and uninspiring work from someone who should be doing more. Maybe he can start with hiring better agents.


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