‘The Terminal List’: Chris Pratt Says Show Mashes up ‘Memento,’ ‘Jacob’s Ladder,’ ‘Sicario,’ More

Prime Video has turned a number of literary franchises into series. Both Reacher and Jack Ryan had their movie franchises before Prime. The Terminal List skipped over the movies and went straight to series, thanks in part to star/producer Chris Pratt recognizing it would be better as one. Pratt still cited movies as diverse as Memento and Jacob’s Ladder as influences, though. 

'Terminal List': Chris Pratt salutes an American flag
Chris Pratt | Prime Video

Pratt was a guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast on July 12. He discussed the cinematic inspirations for The Terminal List. Season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video.

What ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ has to do with ‘The Terminal List’

Based on the Jack Carr book, The Terminal List is about a Navy SEAL (Pratt) investigating an ambush on his team. Jacob’s Ladder was also about a group of Vietnam veterans reuniting to investigate shared trauma. Jacob’s Ladder turns out to be supernatural, but we can see where Pratt is going with this. 

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“The reference points that we had, it’s really an ode to the thriller genre but it does sort of weave in and out the type of subgenre, psychological thriller to start off,” Pratt said on Happy Sad Confused. “So we’re like a little bit of Jacob’s Ladder, a little bit of Memento with action of Sicario.”

Chris Pratt likens ‘The Terminal List’ to ‘Three Days of the Condor,’ ‘Taken’ and Rambo

Folks who have watched The Terminal List Season 1 all the way through know how it keeps evolving. After a major twist, Pratt said the show becomes more like some other classic action movies. 

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“Something happens in the middle and it becomes a bit more of a conspiracy thriller which has like Three Days of the Condor or the tradecraft of a Spy Game or something like that,” Pratt said. “And then it fuses into more of a revenge thriller that’s going to be more Taken, more First Blood. Not that that’s a revenge thriller but it has its ode to First Blood in one of the episodes.”

Chris Pratt couldn’t stick to just one thing 

Pratt enjoyed crossing all of those genres in The Terminal List. The story of The Terminal List required it, too. After a certain revelation, Pratt couldn’t keep playing the victim of a conspiracy. Pratt optioned the book and hired Antoine Fuqua to direct the pilot since he read the Carr book via his Navy SEAL friend, with whom he trained for Zero Dark Thirty.

“It really goes in between those things as it ratchets forward,” Pratt said. “We couldn’t really keep the psychological thriller going the entire time because there’s a revelation that you have that justifies his lack of reliability as a narrator of his own story. His conflicting memories of what happened on his opp, you understand why that’s happening.”

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