In Reviews

April 30th, 2021




If it were 1992, a movie such as Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse would have been starring Harrison Ford and directed by the likes of a Jan de Bont, and that’s not a negative comment, that’s absolutely a positive. Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) is the director, but this time the hero is Michael B. Jordan, and if the universe is doing things right, Jordan will be the next great action movie star. Not because we need him, but because cinema deserves him, someone that continues to prove his durability and versatility in acting. Without Remorse is a throwback, half military, half revenge mission, about a group of special force operatives that end up being double crossed by their own government. The themes may feel outdated to some, but the action, and set pieces are some of the best you’ll see in 2021. Without Remorse holds nothing back and the final result is a thrilling rollercoaster of hardcore action.

The set up begins in Aleppo, Syria, a small covert operating Navy Seal team going into a house that’s run by Russian arms dealers. The operation ends up being a mess, with fighters waiting for them to attack, instantly turning into a firefight. Some are wounded and then an explosion to dispose of any signs of an American ambush. The squad leader Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) might be holding information from his team, and sergeant John Kelly (Jordan) is sure to let him know he’s not happy about it. Months pass and members of the team settle back home, but then a group of Russian agents start taking out team members, one by one, and when they go for John he’s able to fight them off, but not without his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London) being killed in the process. This sets John off for revenge, to find out who was behind making this happen, at any cost, no matter what happens to him, he’s taking a scorched earth approach.

Revenge stories such as this tend to peak our interests and that’s more of the same here, where it’s a thrilling sense of a lone man’s mission. The screenplay is written by Hell or High Water scribe Taylor Sheridan, along with Will Staples, adapting the Clancy novel. As far as espionage or military thrillers go, Sheridan, Staples, and director Sollima keep the villains mysterious, often intruders wearing masks, or snipers from far away that we can’t see. The question becomes who can John Kelly trust? In his pursuit of finding the killers, Sollima does a strong job of building up to each set piece. The opening raid is thrilling, followed by the tension of a home invasion, some middle segments of bureaucratic dialogue, a scene where John hunts down information to get the killers, and then followed by a massive airplane crash set piece that is on par with Castaway in creating anxiety in the water. Going through it all, entirely carrying the action is Jordan, who tends to be a better actor when he’s able to let his emotions loose. In Without Remorse he runs the gamut, painfully drained by the loss of his wife, physically impressive with his tactical skills, and never not on the screen becoming this character. If Jordan is going to finish his run in the Creed series, John Kelly is a character he can fall back on forever.

The other half of Without Remorse is the supporting cast, which includes Jamie Bell, doing a strong job of playing a 50/50 man, someone that you don’t trust at all one minute and then feel he’s only doing the right thing another. The other impressive co-star is Jodie Turner-Smith as Kelly’s friend and confidant, trying to hold her friend back from irrational actions, while wanting to help him find his wife’s killers. The government official wearing the suit, sitting behind the desk, and keeping his motives to the chest is Guy Pearce as Secretary Clay. It’s towards the end of Without Remorse where the narrative succumbs to the law of celebrity actors left, which makes it predictable, yet still incredibly entertaining.

The final result is a movie that I miss seeing more of these days. The action is tight, the cinematography does an excellent job of using dark light to create mystery, while not making images look invisible. And the rest goes back to Jordan and intense thrills. His character is not superhuman, just a man on a mission to get his pound of flesh, and do it with incredible military skills. Without Remorse achieves exactly what it sets out to do in the action genre, and I was thoroughly entertained by it all, which is something that I will not feel bad about. Make Michael B. Jordan the man with a plan, because it’s thrilling to see him execute.


Written by: Leo Brady

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