Review: “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” is a Run-off-the-mill Movie with Very Few Moments of Brilliance

Amazon Prime’s newest action flick, Without Remorse, is an adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel of the same name. The movie is directed by Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) and was birthed due to the creation of Clancy’s fictional character, John Kelly.  Tom Clancy is an author who is also renowned for the creation of the famous fictional character, Jack Ryan, whose story has also been adapted into a TV series in recent years. Based on Clancy’s 1993 novel, Without Remorse follows the story of John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) and the aftermath of his mission in Aleppo, Syria, with his division and superior officer, Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). They were ordered by the CIA to raid a Syrian safe house for the extraction of a captured CIA operative, unbeknown to them, the place is a Russian artillery safe house. When the group of CIA ops involved in the presumed Syrian mission return to American soil, they are individually targeted and terminated by unknown assassins. It is during this covert operation by the unknown assassins that Kelly’s pregnant wife, Pam (Lauren London), gets murdered in his stead and Kelly himself barely survives the altercation thus leading to the protagonist’s admonition on getting revenge and later realizing that there is a deeper conspiracy in play. 

Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan in Without Remorse
Image via Amazon Studios.

The plot of the movie is purely based on the ‘revenge’ theme, a storyline that we’re all familiar with and has been done countless times. However, movies with this genre should amount to groundbreaking action sequences, a little twist and a bloodthirsty character that brings hell along with him. Maybe that is the main point behind the burnt car scene in Without Remorse— John Kelly interrogating a bad guy in a burning car, looking all badass. The scene is supposed to be the shock effect for viewers to have this ‘oh, this guy is crazy’ notion but it barely did anything to amaze me. The movie brought nothing new to the table of action thrillers except Michael B. Jordan. A spy like Jason Bourne comes into mind and his crazy hand-to-hand combat pops in; British agent, 007, pops up in one’s head and one remembers his beguiling way of introducing his name or is it the ‘mad’ official theme tune that is accustomed to the Mission Impossible franchise (I am practically humming the tune right now). 

Image via Amazon Studios.

Sadly, there is nothing to remember Without Remorse  by and the action scenes are barely engraved in one’s mind. It is a movie you forget as soon as it ends. The deadly bus fight scene in Nobody (starring Bob Odebkirk) is still etched in my memory, which is what action movies should be all about. They mostly have a familiar storyline but it is up to the director/scriptwriter to give viewers a full-blown action sequence to remember the movie by. Sadly (again), for Without Remorse, it lacks memorable shots for viewers to reminisce about. It only shows that Jordan can do a good job in the action genre, something that isn’t surprising and could have been deduced from his villainy role in Black Panther.

Jordan’s character, John Kelly, went to Russia and Syria with his team but neither did it even reflect in the shots, nor did the movie instill the feeling to carry viewers along on the changed settings. Maybe this means nothing to some viewers but this should be key in action thrillers like this especially if it involves travelling to numerous countries. I guess this is where I say that the Without Remorse team needs to learn a thing or ten from Bourne since it is also an adaptation of a novel by Robert Ludlum. Without Reomrse failed to impress and do justice to the premise presented, thus, killing off the vibe it ought to showcase— an action thriller. I can boldly presume that it is merely a shadow of the popular book. As for people that have read the novel, the movie might turn out to be a nightmare. 

Image via Amazon Studios.

Michael B. Jordan is the heart of the film; and he saved it from being a full disaster. His finesse and display of action just shows how terrific of an actor he is. Jordan’s capability and ability as a full-fledged action star is put on display (with restraint) in this action thriller. The prison fight scene was well-directed and is the best action scene throughout the 1 hr 50 min movie amidst the throwing of grenades. It is a combat that takes place in a small compartment, bringing back the memory of the Captain America elevator fight scene. This brings me back to the point; will Without Remorse come to mind when I try to remember crazy prison fight scenes? No, movies like Face Off or The Raid will come to mind. This movie didn’t meet my expectations, even though Jordan has this charm and physicality to pull off any character he embodies but this wasn’t enough to save the movie.

The movie’s definition of an action thriller is blowing things up and rowdy shootouts. I will watch Michael B. Jordan over and over as a villain in Black Panther or the heavy punch boxer in Creed than to give his latest action thriller another watch. The movie’s attempt to use (crass) dialogue to sustain the attention of viewers (at least for me) wasn’t effective, if anything, it only made it a bore. For fans of Jordan that wish to see him in a new role, this movie might just be perfect or maybe a waste of the actor’s potential. The movie ends with a mid-credits scene to indicate a sequel, one I doubt a lot of people will be excited for, that is even if they remember that there would be a sequel when the day ends. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is a predictable storyline that relies solely on the main lead’s panache to carry its burden.

Rating: 5/10

Side Musings

  • Just Michael B. Jordan and the prison fight scene in the movie was the singular amusing thing.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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