“Action-capable hero seeks revenge following the murder of his wife” is one generic genre outline that many an action film has adhered to. And whilst Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (as it’s being touted) is a film stocked with considerable talent who all deserve better than such a configuration afforded, their combined efforts can’t exactly lift it above standard enjoyment.
Michael B. Jordan does more with his role of Navy SEAL John Kelly than the film honestly deserves, injecting genuine emotion as he narrowly survives a violent home invasion that claims the life of his pregnant wife (Lauren London). It’s almost expected that Kelly was on the verge of retirement (because, of course) so it’s even more of a typical progression when he demands involvement in the case of narrowing down who’s responsible.
The CIA not wanting to create an international incident – those responsible for Kelly’s wife’s murder are Russian – means he has to go rogue, learning of a secret mission to infiltrate Russian soil to seek more answers; his commanding officer (Jodie Turner-Smith) using her own intel to keep him abreast of the government’s hush-hush plans.
Clancy enthusiasts should know – and viewers in general, really – that conspiracies, obvious plot twists, healthy shoot-outs, and sequel baiting will follow, and wouldn’t you know it, Without Remorse doesn’t miss a single beat. Much of it won’t be remotely surprising, but Jordan is just so damned committed to the material that he manages to lace the standard beats with a welcome freshness that allows the film to be as watchable as it is; there’s also a rather supremely well-staged airplane crash sequence that speaks to the complex capabilities of the stunt team and choreographers.
More emotionally intense and frequently violent than perhaps the target audience of Clancy’s novels will be expecting, Without Remorse does its best to update the 1993 origins of its source material, but ultimately falls back on the genre tropes of the actioners of the 80’s and 90’s that delighted in such recycled simplicity. The intent to kickstart a franchise is clearly here, and whilst Without Remorse may not be the strongest starting point, Jordan’s engagement with the material is enough of a promising ingredient to give this, and future chapters, a passing grade.
TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in Australia from April 30th, 2021.