Michael B. Jordan goes into full action mode for 'Without Remorse'

  • John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) seeks revenge after his pregnant wife is killed in their home in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse."

    John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) seeks revenge after his pregnant wife is killed in their home in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse." Courtesy of Amazon

  • John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) seeks revenge after his pregnant wife is killed in their home in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse."

    John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) seeks revenge after his pregnant wife is killed in their home in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse." Courtesy of Amazon

  • Navy Seal John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), right, confronts a CIA officer (Jamie Bell) after a past mission comes back to haunt him in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse."

    Navy Seal John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), right, confronts a CIA officer (Jamie Bell) after a past mission comes back to haunt him in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse." Courtesy of Amazon

 
 
Posted4/29/2021 6:00 AM

"Tom Clancy's Without Remorse" - ★ ★

In the new Tom Clancy adaptation, "Without Remorse," Michael B. Jordan is a Navy SEAL about to trade military life for private security when his pregnant wife (Lauren London) is executed in their Washington D.C. home. It's part of a calculated ambush: The assassins are picking off the men in his unit because of a mishap in Aleppo where the Americans attacked the Russian military instead of Syrians. They were following orders without knowing the full story and soon the Russians are in the U.S. retaliating. Jordan's John Kelly was the target, but he happened to be on the couch with noise canceling headphones and not the bed when they broke into his home.

 

It's somewhat frustrating that movies like this tend to be so similar that it almost ensures zero emotional investment in the inciting incident whatsoever. The dead, pregnant wife is a launching off point and the screenplay (written by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples) doesn't do us (or them) any favors. Never has there been a more generic couple than the Kellys. Soon enough, she's dead and John and the movie can really get started.

The good news is that "Without Remorse" is pretty great when it comes to the action, and there is a lot of it. Director Stefano Sollima, keeps the engines moving forward and the set pieces dynamic and distinct. And although John Kelly might not be the most layered guy on the page, it's impossible to take your eyes off him -- the power of movie star charisma? He's best when he's playing opposite Jodie Turner-Smith, playing Lt. Cmdr. Karen Greer.

Clancy's novel was published in 1993 and it's a story that has been bouncing around Hollywood almost as long as it's been on shelves with everyone from Keanu Reeves to Tom Hardy circling the project at various points. But besides the names used, the book and the film seem to have almost nothing else in common. Instead of setting it during the Vietnam War, Sollima and the writers have made it modern with escalating tensions between Russian and the U.S.

Jamie Bell co-stars as a humorless CIA officer who was the reason for the Aleppo snafu. Guy Pearce adds some gravitas as the Secretary of Defense. With its glossy pedigree, it will be no surprise to anyone that this was originally intended as a Paramount theatrical release before the pandemic.

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Although it has a few twists and turns, "Without Remorse" doesn't exactly have anything revelatory to say and it takes itself very, very seriously, which makes it a little disarming to see Brett Gelman show up at a key moment. It's also setting up at least one sequel. Jordan will likely be replaying John Kelly (by the end he's John Clark) in "Rainbow Six." Maybe by then the filmmakers will allow themselves to have some fun with his character. Even so, he's just the shot in the arm that the Clancy-verse needed.

• • •

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce, Jamie Bell, Lauren London

Directed by: Stefano Sollima

Other: An Amazon Studios release. On Amazon Prime. Rated R for violence. 109 minutes

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