Tom Clancy’s name sure does get around. Going from the original novels onto several films, TV shows, and video games and then all the way back around to tie-in novels, the “Tom Clancy” branding has become increasingly loose. However, the latest in the long line of Tom Clancy’s endorsed media is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, based somewhat loosely on Clancy’s 1992 novel of the same name.
Without Remorse was released digitally on Prime Video last week, starring Michael B. Jordan as Clancy staple John Kelly, and it hasn’t gone over as well as Amazon had hoped.
While Jordan has garnered some praise for his performance, audiences have labelled the film ‘generic’, and honestly, it’s not hard to see why.
Without Remorse opens with an impressively plausible action sequence involving a special ops mission in Syria, followed by a necessary look into Kelly’s personal life (pregnant wife, happy family, etc.). All that ends with a fairly predictable tragedy, prompting several scenes of political exposition which sets the scene for a revenge-driven Kelly to join a covert mission to Russia to intercept a terrorist.
All that works relatively well, although that’s where the plot takes a deep dive into conspiracy and the action becomes far less believable. Every subsequent development undermines the fairly competent first half of the film further, by adding layer upon layer of twists and turns, each more implausible than the last. Here, Without Remorse falls squarely into the category of nonsensical action movie; complete with the apparently invincible protagonist, wave after wave of enemy soldiers with truly laughable aim, and the sinister plotting of faceless government agencies.
It’s honestly a shame, because Jordan delivers a genuinely solid turn as Kelly, a man pushed to his absolute limit. There’s emotion in his performance, and a believable drive to find those responsible for his personal tragedy, but ultimately, he’s acting out a story that we’ve heard countless times before, and it rings hollow.
Starring alongside Jordan is Jodie Turner-Smith, who isn’t given all too much to do other than act as a sidekick, and Jamie Bell, who acts as the vaguely inept CIA operative landed with Kelly on their covert mission.
Ultimately, Without Remorse was a standard action movie. It wasn’t innovative or inspired, but it was competent throughout and will likely revive cinematic interest in Clancy’s work. It’s far from perfect, but it’s sound enough to spawn a decent franchise going forward – providing the writers can fix some of their missteps here.
Summary: A bang-average action/war/political thriller, Without Remorse takes an unoriginal idea and makes it work reasonably well – due in no small part to the charisma of star Michael B. Jordan.
Without Remorse is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.