Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse
Without Remorse (2021) movie review
Without Remorse is based on the novel by Tom Clancy, who wrote the novels that properties like the Jack Ryan films and series, as well as video games like the Ghost Recon series, are also based on. The film stars Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly, a Navy SEAL who goes down a path of revenge after an operation gone wrong. Without Remorse was directed by Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, 2018) and written by Will Staples (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, 2011) and Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, 2016). The action film premiered on Amazon Prime this weekend to reviews that perfectly exemplify what a letdown this film based on a Tom Clancy film starring Michael B. Jordan and written by Taylor Sheridan is…
I really wanted this one to be good. I’ve been a fan of the Tom Clancy films so far, so I was totally ready for a more action-heavy film focusing on non-Jack Ryan characters in this world. What I got instead was a very generic revenge thriller with a handful of awesome moments balanced horrible by a handful of clichés, predictable or confusing twists, and total lack of story. Now if you are totally fine with a generic action film, it’s not a half bad watch! And like I said, it’s got its moments for sure! But boy does this pale in comparison to Amazon’s Jack Ryan (2018-). Would a crossover make this better… Absolutely.
The largest missteps the film makes is the direction of the story, which deviates significantly from the novel it is based on. While both stories follow a fairly typical revenge-style plot, the novel was published in the early 90s. If this film had been released when it was first put into pre-production shortly after the novel’s release, it might work fine! Instead it is painfully generic and predictable. On top of that, it is incredible underdeveloped, with razor thin connections linking key plot points that are only briefly explained. Plus this film advertises its twists from a mile away… That’s a saying right?
That said, while this film does make the mistake of putting action over story, the action is solid! Clancy knew how to write military, and somewhere between his writing, Sheridan’s tense screenplay, and the strong direction, the action is legitimately awesome! Even better, it’s not hilariously overblown. Everything feels grounded and real, which makes the tension even more gripping. The quality presented here also extends to the sound design, editing, and cinematography, all of which do a great job capturing and showcasing the strong blocking and choreography.
A mixed bag for me are the performances, which I usually praise. Michael B. Jordan is good, and he sells the emotion of the roll quite well. However the film also goes overboard with that emotional journey, making his performance border on overacting to no fault of Mr. Jordan. Jodie Turner-Smith is great, as she puts the boys to shame with the best pre-production military training in the film. Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce play the government guys, and they do it well. They are also terribly miscast. I don’t buy Bell as Ritter, who was depicted by Henry Czerny in Clear and Present Danger (1994). He’s just too young and too likable to buy the CGI Josh Brolin in flip-flops type for me. And I like Guy Pearce, but he could play Secretary whathisface in his sleep.
So in the end, there were definitely some moments that made this film watchable, even enjoyable. And you could do worse as far as the action goes! But the film banks hard on those action scenes carrying the film to success. Honestly, Without Remorse reminded me of Will Smith’s Gemini Man (2019), where the action and effects work are great, but the painfully simply story was twenty years too late. And from what I know about the novel, following the original story could have gone a long way… But alas, they wanted to change it. And now we have this. 5/10.
So Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse? Did you watch it? What did you think? And what is your favorite Tom Clancy adaptation? Movie, show, or game! Be sure to leave a like and a comment below and let us know! And if you like this review and want to read more, let us know in the comments what we should write about next!
-review by Ryan Prince