Michael B. Jordan’s new action flick, Without Remorse, hits Prime Video this week bringing more Tom Clancy intrigue into your home…But is it worth checking out? Here’s our review.
It’s time to dive back into the politically fraught world of Tom Clancy in Without Remorse. Based on the author’s books, and set within the world of Jack Ryan’s adventures, Without Remorse puts the focus on Elite Navy Seal John Kelly. After a mission in Syria to rescue a captured CIA operative doesn’t go exactly as planned, Kelly and his team return home for much needed R&R.
Directed By: Stefano Sollima
Written By: Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce, Jamie Bell
Release Date: April 30, 2021 on Amazon Prime Video
Staring down retirement from the military and a first child on the way, Kelly is looking forward to putting the life of the uber-badass behind him. When a group of Russian operatives begin taking out his team members, it looks like retaliation for the previous mission is hitting him at home. When the Russians fail to take him out, but end up murdering his wife and unborn child, Kelly’s next steps become deeply personal. Even as things seem to be falling into place, allowing him to take vengeance, a bigger conspiracy is uncovered, one that could plunge the United States into war…
Sounds pretty much like what you’d expect from a Tom Clancy story, right? Because there are some twists that happen, I’m going to leave the story details at that. Suffice it to say, it brings in just about all the elements you’d expect with technical jabber, military speak, political backstabbing, and more.
That said, and as you’ve probably gathered from the trailers for the film, Without Remorse definitely has a more action slant to everything. John Kelly is established to be one of the best of the best, and the ass-kickings he doles out in the film do an excellent job of showing it off. By and large, it feels more like a revenge action film (almost in the vein of Liam Neeson’s various projects over the past decade) than what we’re normally used to in these films.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s been plenty of action in various Tom Clancy films, but they were more akin to thrillers, with the tension coming from more than flying fists/bullets. Here, it’s bombastic, over the top, and absolutely “holy shit” inducing.
Michael B. Jordan plays the part well, bringing great physicality to the role while giving us an emotional anchor in all the right spots. The problem, however, is the script doesn’t really give his character time to do much other than whip ass and look cool. The conspiracy elements are interesting, but feel like little more than a backdrop for the action. Both my girlfriend and I were able to figure out the “twist” long before it happened, which is saying something considering the film’s run time is pretty darn short.
Coming in under two hours, Without Remorse sets a blistering pace that gives little time for exposition. Aside from the initial character moments, mostly put in there to give the revenge element more oomph, the film dives straight from one moment to the next. There are flashes of genuine character beats, especially between Jordan’s Kelly and his commanding officer Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), but there’s no time to really process them as the audience. There’s an implied deep history/kinship between them, but the scenes feel more intent on TELLING you about it rather than showing the depth.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I can’t honestly think of a single time I was bored during the film. Even without the script giving them much time, the natural charisma/talent between the actors make those moments entertaining even when they’re not particularly enlightening. It’s still a fun film to watch, but by the time the credits rolled, there wasn’t much to look back on and talk about.
There’s very clearly a setup for a sequel (presumably Rainbow Six) or even a whole franchise built around Michael B. Jordan’s character. In some ways, Without Remorse has the feeling of watching a pilot episode of a series. Much of the story feels like it’s establishing storylines/characters to dive into further, without actually doing so. The result is a film that’s still entertaining, but doesn’t feel complete.