Why couldn’t the movie be as good as Michael B. Jordan? IDK.
Willem Dafoe and Live Schreiber have respectively portrayed Navy SEAL John Clark before in “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears, and now that Tom Clancy role goes to Michael B. Jordan in “Without Remorse.” Given his recent record of becoming a commercial actor with “Creed” and “Black Panther,” among others, he’s the star of the show, and he does a good job at portraying the character with the right ambitions.
And Kelly is Johns real last name, for the record.
But unfortunately, Jordan can’t save the whole movie, which is based on explosions, betrayals, shoot-outs, crashes, and fights, and they distract us from the story, which becomes convoluted. “Without Remorse” was directed by Stefano Sollima, who also made the entertaining sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” and its screenplay was done by the usually profound Taylor Sheridan and the video game writer Will Staples. Jordan is also a producer of this, and he should have told them that books and video games don’t mix.
As the movie begins, John retires from the military to settle down with his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London), until she gets murdered by Russian assassins. John was supposed to be the target along with two other Navy SEALs. His friend-a former SEAL team member Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith from “Queen & Slim”) informs him that the CIA won’t investigate these attacks further, and declare it “national security.” Breaking the roles, she gives John the scoop on the Russian men responsible, so he takes matter in his own hands, and ends up in prison.
Finding out the name of the fourth gunman who murdered his wife and unborn child-Viktor Rykov (Brett Gelman)-John takes no hesitation in getting back in the field to bring the man to justice. Greer doesn’t think he’s suitable for that, but Secretary Clay (Guy Pearce) accepts him on the condition that they return him back to prison. And CIA officer Robert Ritter (Jamie Bells) joins in on the mission. For obvious reasons, John doesn’t want to bring Rykov in; he plans to kill him, but the plot thickens, because there’s a greater cause that America has betrayed.
Every once in a while, you find yourself with a crappy movie that would have received zero stars, if it wasn’t for the one actor to prevent that form happening. And believe me Rami Malek deserved that Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the overrated “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In “Without Remorse,” Jordan is a pro, he’s a natural, and he’s entertaining for giving his characters real feelings, emotions, and energy. And his best fight scene is when he fights prison guards by flooding a sink and talking off his orange uniform.
But as for the rest of the movie, there’s no character development or patience; it’s all over the place. It’s a revenge story that squeezes the genres of drama and action very tight. Yes, it mentions how the U.S. government is full of traitors, which triggers John’s senses, but it should have done more with that, instead of relying on all the action and cliches to keep things rolling. Not even the supporting work of Turner-Smith, Bell, or Pearce could shake things up, and they’re all great actors like Jordan.
If it starts a sequel, then hopefully the filmmakers can make major improvements on this ambitious mess.
Streaming on Amazon Prime