By Paul Hall
Navy SEALs are an elite force sent to take on some of the toughest missions that our military has to dish out, many of those missions in total anonymity. The new film Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, available now on Amazon Prime Video, tackles one of those missions and the consequences that followed.
John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) joins his SEAL brothers on a team led by Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), sent to extract a hostage from Syria. As with many operations, not everything is quite what it seems. The SEALs weren’t given all the information about what they were getting into and who they were attacking. Because of the casualties related to the extraction, someone or some group is working to deliver payback to all involved with the SEAL team and there is bound to be collateral damage. Kelly’s life is about to change forever, but he is a survivor and he vows to fight back.
CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) knows more than he is willing to share. He knows the truth about Syria and the truth about the attacks on the SEAL team, and isn’t talking. As the battle within the battle rages on, Kelly will need to proceed with no remorse as he looks to identify and eliminate those responsible for the heinous acts that were committed.
Tom Clancy-inspired movies and television events have long fascinated me. From The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games to Clear and Present Danger and the Amazon Prime Jack Ryan series, there is a visceral response to the action and intrigue that the Clancy-based source material is known to deliver. Unfortunately, however, Without Remorse comes up a bit short in comparison.
Without Remorse drops the ball with a story told in a manner that feels muddled and hidden in the darkness of the background due to a combination of directorial choices and the way the narrative itself is presented.
Jordan does his best to create Kelly’s driven and motivated actions, but is derailed just when he gets on the verge of something special. With Kelly’s backstory limited, we get right into the revenge aspect and lose some of the dynamic between Turner-Smith and Jordan. Their characters definitely have a history and a mutual respect, but we never really see what drives that respect.
The action is brisk and filled with some fairly intense stunts. Some of the acts of payback are extremely brutal and deliver a spare-no-prisoners feel. The intensity is there, and it is palpable.
I did like the film, but it is nowhere near what it could be. There is more in the credits to look for including foreshadowing for the next installment, but I’ll leave that to you to see. I’m in with Jordan, and for that reason I’m in to keep going with John Kelly.
The battlefield for heroes is a murky place, and the definition of a hero may be even murkier, but good men and women exist. It can just be harder to identify them.
Paul’s Grade: C+
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse
Stars Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell, Guy Pearce
Director: Stefano Sollima