Author Tom Clancy’s second most famous literary character John Clark finally gets a solo big-screen outing in Amazon Studios Without Remorse, from director Stefano Sollmia. Sr. Chief Navy Seal John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) has successfully rescued a CIA operative taken hostage by ex-Russian military forces in war-torn Syria. Three months later, a squad of Russian soldiers kills his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London) in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op and critically injure John.
Wanting revenge, John changes his identity to John Clark and pursues the assassins at all costs. To achieve his goal, he joins forces with a fellow SEAL and close friend, Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), and a shadowy CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). Clark’s mission unwittingly exposes a covert plot that threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war. Torn between personal honor and loyalty to his country, Clark must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the influential figures behind the conspiracy.
While I never read any of Tom Clancy’s novels, I do recall being impressed by Willem Dafoe’s take on the character in the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger. It would be another eight years until John Clark made an appearance with Liv Schreiber taking on the character in 2002’s Jack Ryan prequel The Sum of All Fears. The development of Without Remorse goes back to 1994, with names like Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Gary Sinise who were either offered roles or being involved in the production. Initially, Tom Hardy talked about the part, but in 2018, negotiations were finalized for Michael B. Jordan to assume the role.
Luckily Jordan has some pure talent behind the scenes guiding his latest film. Director Stefano Sollmia and writer Taylor Sheridan, who previously collaborated Sicario: Day of the Soldado, reunite for Without Remorse. Now before I get to my review, I want to point out to the die-hard Clancy fans who may not be aware that the plot has nothing to do with the novel, with the exception that John Clark was a Navy Seal. The catalyst in the book is that Clark secretly goes after the drug lords that killed his girlfriend while at the same time helping the government rescue POWs. Furthermore, as you know in the books, the lead character is white, and Greer’s gender is male. As I alluded to earlier, while I have not read the book, I do not mind the changes.
I am a die-hard fan of Taylor Sheridan’s writing style, so I was instantly sold on the film. From that standpoint, I will acknowledge that Without Remorse is not as strong as Sheridan’s previous efforts. Instead, Sheridan has composed a straightforward popcorn flick. Similarly, those expecting non-stop action may be slightly upset as director Stefano Sollmia follows his signature style of direction. This means the action only comes in spurts, and when the sequences occur, they are aggressive and brutal.
In terms of acting, Michael B. Jordan continues his A-List rise. I have been a fan of Jordan since his appearance in 2001’s Hardball, and he brings the right amount of charisma to the character of John. As a veteran myself and friend to many former Rangers, I fully identified with John’s arc as a military man. The brief scenes where Jordan interacts with Lauren London were a great example of black love, no matter how short the scenes were. The supporting cast of Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce is not anything you haven’t seen from them before, but they do what they can. Next to Jordan, though, my favorite performance was Jodie Turner-Smith.
I am the son of a retired female Sergeant Major, so anytime I see a military movie displaying some of the elegance and grace of a high-ranking black woman in the Armed forces, I cannot help but smile. Jodie Turner-Smith first came to my attention in Queen & Slim, so it was great to see her flex her acting chops in an action flick.
Featuring quality action sequences, a strong script, and another likable performance from Michael B. Jordan, Without Remorse is an excellent start to a franchise and highly recommended. Please ensure you watch through the credits for sequel stinger.
Final Grade: B+
Without Remorse is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video tomorrow, April 30th.