"Without Remorse" stars Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Luke Mitchell, Jack Kesy, Brett Gelman, Colman Domingo, and Guy Pearce. Released on Amazon Prime on April 30, 2021, the film is about a U.S. Navy SEAL who attempts to avenge his wife.
The film was directed by Stefano Sollima, who also directed films such as "Suburra" and "Sicario: Day of the Soldado". It is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. When will people learn? Never mess with a Navy SEAL unless you're prepared to feel their wrath. After serving as a supporting character in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series via film, John Clark is finally given a chance to star in his own adventure in the form of an origin story. I was pretty excited to see Michael B. Jordan headline another potential franchise. However, I was also curious about how I will feel towards it for one good reason: I wasn't familiar with the world of Jack Ryan. I haven't watched any single adaptation of Tom Clancy's franchise that came out before "Without Remorse", including the "Jack Ryan" series that's on Amazon Prime. While the source material has plenty of action, thrills, and patriotism, it sadly didn't capture my interest as much as "Mission: Impossible" and "Fast & Furious". So I was hoping that this film would be good enough to get me attached to the franchise. With that said, let's see if John Clark is capable enough to kickstart his own series of adventures.
The story centers on John Kelly (Jordan), a Senior Chief who leads an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs. They have accomplished their mission to rescue a CIA operative from ex-Russian military forces. A few months later, a squad of Russian assassins murdered John's team and his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London) in apparent retaliation. Fueled with devastation and rage, John, along with Lieutenant Commander Karen Greer (Turner-Smith) and a CIA black ops team, sets out to find the person responsible for his wife's murder. They later discover a conspiracy that could spark another war between the U.S. and the Russians. As I stated earlier, the film serves as an origin story for John Clark, who went from being a Navy SEAL to working for the CIA. So if you're interested in watching his humble beginnings unfold on screen, this film has got you covered. Unfortunately, it did very little beyond its intended goal to satisfy specific newcomers such as myself. The marketing described this as a full-on action movie, but in reality, "Without Remorse" is a slow-burn thriller that's filled with patriotism, espionage, shootouts, and plenty of dialogue. Even though I didn't mind this approach due to its cast, I found the execution to be pretty sluggish regarding the direction and pacing. Not only was the film's story formulaic and subpar, but it was also overly determined to set up a potential follow-up rather than provide an engaging plot with solid characters and timely themes. There were times where it attempted to make us care for the characters and themes but wound up being underwhelming and tedious in the process. However, I found a couple of things that made it watchable for me, such as Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly. While far from his best performance, Jordan still managed to depict John as a strict yet broken-hearted person who's willing to do whatever it takes to seek justice. His fascinating performance as John clearly showed his undeniable talent of bringing his characters to life. Jodie Turner-Smith also turned in a satisfactory performance as Karen. Not as stellar as her role in "Queen & Slim", but OK enough for me to continue supporting her talent. Another thing that impressed me was its cinematography. The film had plenty of well-framed sequences that benefitted from its sharp editing and gritty settings, including the shootouts, which were nicely choreographed. My only issue with the action scenes was that most of the shootouts looked like they were filmed with a PG-13 rating in mind. Despite the film being released with an R rating, the action scenes were surprisingly tame and not as exciting as I thought they would be. Maybe it was the lack of blood that made them like this or the dull direction it was given for these sequences? Whatever it is, I was pretty disappointed with how they turn out. They're stylish to look at, but all of that style presented in the film couldn't reach the intensity it was hoping to gain.
Overall, the film adaptation of Tom Clancy's "Without Remorse" has plenty of moments that should please some fans of dialogue-driven thrillers and Tom Clancy's book series. However, its severe absence of invigoration and depth caused it to miss most of the targets it was aiming for. The fact that it's only made to serve as a franchise starter further dampens its appeal from a storytelling perspective. Jordan's performance and the film's sleek cinematography are sadly not enough to shoot past its dull and formulaic plot, average characters, and Sollima's direction. I was hoping that this would be a solid introduction to Tom Clancy's world for me, but alas, that's not the case. Let's hope that its follow-up based on "Rainbow Six" can get the job done. If it happens, of course.