Without Remorse director: Stefano Sollima
Without Remorse rating: 2 stars
One might reasonably expect that a movie titled Without Remorse and claiming to be based on the eponymous book by Tom Clancy would, at least to a certain degree, follow the said book’s plot. But that is not the case. This scribe admits ignorance of the source material, but the choice is still confounding, for whatever the quality of the book, it likely could not have been this generic.
Directed by Stefano Sollima, Without Remorse is headlined by Michael B Jordan, who plays a blunt US Navy Seal operative called John Kelly on a quest for vengeance after his pregnant wife is murdered by what look like Russian nationals.
A straightforward soldier, he gets entangled in the double-dealing world of international espionage and comes across highly placed warmongers for whom troops are just pawns to achieve their vague goals. Oh, and there apparently are people in the US government who look at the Cold War with a nostalgic eye and want it back.
If you can’t tell by now, Without Remorse is an spy thriller that is as conventional as they come. It’s like the writers, Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, wanted to tick every box of a typical film of this genre.
The hero is an unstoppable force of nature who cannot be killed by whole battalions of nameless bad guys. He does get shot, but the bullets lodged into his torso and shoulders are minor inconveniences in the face of his goals. The big twist that film has in the end? You would see it from a mile away if you were paying attention — which honestly isn’t a given.
It is only the presence and intensity of a jacked-up Michael B Jordan and supporting cast, particularly Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce, and some exquisitely shot and performed action scenes that will keep you watching. It is a good thing that the film is a star vehicle for Jordan, as he gets plenty of screen time. His character is not particularly well-written, but he makes it more compelling than it has any right to be.