A Tom Clancy thriller involving a plot that pits USA against the Russians and questionable morality matters centred around the CIA and US armed forces. It’s not the 80’s kids, but damn does it feel like it again. Adapted from the ’93 novel of the same name, Without Remorse is the latest of Clancy’s work to be given the big screen buff, but with it comes a modern makeover.
We begin Without Remorse in the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria. An elite team of Navy SEALs, led by John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), are there to extract a CIA operative who has been held captive. After an exhilarating stand off between America’s finest and what is believed to be the Syrian army, it is revealed that the operation was led by the Russian military.
Upon returning to the US, members of Kelly’s team are gradually being picked off one by one, by an unknown black ops team. Then they reach Kelly himself, which as you can probably guess from the title alone, was a door they never should’ve knocked on. Despite Kelly’s wife and unborn child being killed in the assassination attempt, they failed to finish off who they were sent there for, which leads to a gritty firefight that brings the anger driven war hero to the doorstep of the Russians. A blood-soaked showdown ensues, with revenge being the primary reasoning.
I feel it’s worth immediately noting that little of what Without Remorse offers will surprise you. Director Stefano Sollima has his action movie checklist in hand, and he certainly made his way through it. From its main plot device, to its bombastic and highly explosive action pieces, and even its script. Without Remorse is the sort of action thriller we’ve seen hundreds of times since the early 80’s, and we’ll likely continue to see hundreds more in the years to come.
Michael B. Jordan is certainly convincing as the action hero. He’s more than proved himself as a strong leading man and Without Remorse does nothing to negatively modify that. Its dark natured narrative and more gritty approach to the action genre however, leaves little of Jordan’s charisma on display. Something he has plenty of and can demonstrate effortlessly. His character is given a sombre scenario and so pulls a page out of Liam Neeson’s playbook on a revenge propelled rampage.
Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim), Jamie Bell (Rocketman, 6 Days) and Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3, Memento) are given primary support roles, with the former of which making best work of the given script. Their clichéd, story propelling roles though leave the performances feeling rather formulaic and uninspired.
The life of Without Remorse unsurprisingly lies in its action spectacle. From its frantic, dark opening sequence, which feels as though it’s been stripped straight from a Call of Duty game, to its over-exaggerated final third. The issue here is that much of it lacks any form of originality.
Stefano Sollima’s Without Remorse is a film I really wanted to enjoy, even for its casting choices alone. But it fails to break new ground in the action genre. A formulaic plot, enthusiastic but identical action sequences and a script that gives its cast simple human characteristics, but nothing more.
Without Remorse certainly isn’t without its warts. A flick that perhaps has benefitted more from its appearance on Amazon Prime as apposed to a cinema release. More often than not, it’s generic action fodder, but Michael B. Jordan helps drag you through it.