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As we get ready for the much anticipated long weekend, to light up the barbecue and fireworks celebrating all things red, white, and blue, there couldn’t be a better time for the premiere of “The Terminal List.” The jingoistic Amazon Original Series takes you down a tunnel of American government conspiracy theories. And while the show tries to offer a suspenseful, character-driven mystery-thriller, it gets caught up in a messy storyline of odd ethical conundrums that leaves the audience with a not-so-cathartic end. However, what does make “The Terminal List” worth watching is Constance Wu’s (“Fresh Off the Boat,” “Crazy Rich Asians”) compelling performance as journalist Katie Buraneck.

“The Terminal List,” adapted from Jack Carr’s novel of the same name, follows Navy SEAL James Reece (Chris Pratt) whose entire platoon is ambushed during a covert mission. James returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his own culpability in the deaths of his platoon. As he pieces together evidence alongside new allies, including his old friend Ben (Taylor Kitsch) and journalist Katie, James discovers that the forces working against him are closer to him than he thinks they are. 

Mochi had the opportunity to sit down with Constance Wu to talk about her role as Katie, a war correspondent who quits her prestigious job at a newsroom to pursue high-impact stories. A bold and tenacious journalist who trusts her gut, Katie warily helps James uncover and tell his story. 

In comparison to other roles that Wu has taken on, Katie is a character who is very troubled and conflicted by her own morals that are challenged as she pursues James’ story. Wu revealed, “As an actor I always want to choose something different from the last thing I did, which in this case was ‘Hustlers,’ [so I was] going from playing a stripper to a war correspondent. [There are] the challenges of trying a different genre as well.”

It’s worth noting that the show starts off as a psychological thriller, but makes a sharp shift to a revenge thriller, a departure from the original book. This change is especially marked during a scene between James and Katie, which is grounded in the emotional resonance of a family embroiled in secrets. Not only does this scene give a glimpse into James’ very moral and authentic side, but it also helps us better understand why Katie chooses to help him. 

Constance Wu as Katie Buraneck in “The Terminal List.” Credit: Prime Video

“You’re not playing a journalist; you’re playing a person whose career is journalism,” Wu explained. “[You’re] finding why she has a strong calling for this. [You’re] connecting to the human element of this story.” 

Perspective is key in “The Terminal List.” No one in the show ever lies; they just don’t tell the full truth. As a war correspondent and journalist, Katie is the true witness who has to shine a light on the dark and mysterious disappearance of James’ platoon. “Journalism combined with social media has become a little bit more about clickbait headlines to get internet engagement, rather than about seeking the truth which is what I think is a big part of journalism,” said Wu on the real-life spread of misinformation and the silencing of journalists. “Playing Katie was a refreshing reminder that there are still people and journalists for whom journalistic integrity matters, and [that] what matters is not how many clicks you get, but uncovering the truth by whatever means necessary.” For Wu, using different tactics to establish trust and learning how to read the room were different skills she found fun to dig into.

It was also a treat for Wu to work with director Antoine Fuqua, who has a slew of big action flicks under his belt, including “Training Day” (2001), “Brooklyn’s Finest” (2009), and “The Magnificent Seven” (2016). Wu shared, “Working with Antoine was really appealing to me. I watched ‘Training Day’ and I thought it was so awesome, the performances were so great, and the storytelling was great.”

Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Parks and Recreation”) also served as an executive producer on “The Terminal List.” On working with Pratt, Wu revealed, “Because Chris is such a warm, caring, and friendly individual, he really set the tone for the whole production. Everybody felt cared for. So even though it is a guys’ aggressive show, behind the scenes, it couldn’t have been more warm and family-like. And that sets the tone to make great work, and we are really lucky that Chris set that tone.”

For a post-4th of July, sunburnt and lazy watch of bloody, mindless action, this the show for you. While Wu and Pratt have good chemistry and are supported by a talented ensemble, the plot gradually gets more and more convoluted and saturated by unmemorable flashbacks and exchanges about conspiracy. With that being said, “The Terminal List” is absolutely a fun time for Wu fans to see her in a new and unique role.

“The Terminal List” follows James Reece after his entire platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his culpability. However, as new evidence comes to light, Reece discovers dark forces working against him, endangering not only his life, but the lives of those he loves. Amazon Original Series “The Terminal List” starring Chris Pratt, Constance Wu, Taylor Kitsch, and Jeanne Tripplehorn is streaming now exclusively on Prime Video worldwide. 

Cover Image: Prime Video

Author

  • Shreya is a recent graduate in anthropology from Vassar College. She works for a market research firm in the New York area where she mostly does qualitative research. She was primarily raised in Bangalore, India, a city that corrupted, confused, and crafted her thoughts and values. You’ll find her reading post-colonial theories one moment and watching Turkish dramas the next.

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