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Film Review: Without Remorse

20 May 21 words: Michael Vince

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse is fine—and that’s okay, writes Michael Vince...

Director: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith
Running time: 109 minutes

Some films are great, some films are terrible, others just simply exist. Amazon’s Without Remorse is a fairly by-the-numbers entry in the ‘tragic event leads to revenge mission uncovering conspiracy’ genre and is neither a classic of said genre nor a totally unwatchable mess.

Opening with the tragic death of his pregnant wife, Without Remorse follows Michael B. Jordan’s John Kelly as he seeks revenge but uncovers a wider international conspiracy in the process in a film based on Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel of the same name.

Fans of the book were disappointed with the adaptation for several reasons. There were some who took issue with the casting of Michael B. Jordan for more sinister reasons (because of course they did) but others were more concerned with the fact that the film did not follow the path of the book at all. The final problem people found—and the one I find the most significant—is that it is rather lacklustre.

Let’s get one thing straight, anyone complaining about Michael B. Jordan’s casting can’t exactly be doing this out of concern for the sanctity of the character—he carries this movie. Jordan is a superb actor and does a fantastic job in Without Remorse at conveying the rage and sadness of Kelly after the tragic murder of his soon to be young family, whilst retaining the charisma and acting ability which keeps him at the top of most Hollywood casting calls.

The action in Without Remorse is intense and well shot, as you would expect for an action flick from a property as well known and revered as the Clancy-verse (I think that’s what we’re calling it now). The movie performs similarly to others such as The Dark Knight—quality of film notwithstanding—in that the violence manages to be simultaneously brutal yet also largely devoid of much blood.

Pacing issues and a predictable plot are rescued by strong performances, but not totally rectified

By the time the credits had rolled—both credits, we’ll get to that—I couldn’t help but feel this film would be much better served by being a four-episode mini-series or something similar. Without spoiling anything major, you may find yourself checking the running time as you approach the climax, feeling that the film has left itself with rather a lot to do. Then, all of a sudden, things find themselves wrapped up in a neat little bow. 

This issue with pacing and a rather tired and predictable plot are rescued by strong performances all round and some well-shot action scenes, but are not totally rectified.

Fans will be either excited or dismayed to see a Marvel-esque mid-credits stinger. Reactions could vary from “Oh good, more of my favourite spy stories to rush into an hour and 40 minutes” to “Exciting, I’m glad they have more chances to adapt source material successfully with the strong cast that they have established”. Ties to the excellent Amazon-helmed Jack Ryan (starring John Krasinski) are now expected.

The takeaway from Without Remorse is that you won’t find yourself having totally wasted an evening on this film—in part due to its short run-time—but you will certainly feel as though there was some wasted potential here. If you are a fan of these characters and this world it is worth a watch, as is the case if you’re a fan of Michael B. Jordan. Don’t expect a Bourne-level of conspiracy brilliance, but it is far from the worst this genre has thrown at us in recent years.

Did you know? Three years after the release of the original Without Remorse novel, Tom Clancy co-founded the company Red Storm Entertainment to develop video games based on his books. Red Storm is best known for the Rainbow Six franchise, which is set to be adapted into a feature film in which Michael B. Jordan will reprise his role.

Without Remorse is available on Prime Video

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