What to Expect: A lifeless and politically correct action flick with a soft R-rating.
Other than the name John Clark, Without Remorse has little to do with Tom Clancy’s bestselling 1993 novel. What’s left is a forgettable and listless B-movie actioner with a soft R-rating. It makes XXX: State of Union (2005) with Ice Cube seem thought-provoking and imaginative. The plot is perfunctory. After a covert mission to extract a spy from Syria goes haywire, Navy SEAL John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) returns stateside to seek work in the private sector. His wife is pregnant. John’s homecoming is cut short when he is ambushed at his home by armed insurgents. These men kill his wife and severely wound John.
While recuperating in the hospital, John’s only thoughts are about exacting revenge on the men who massacred his family in cold blood. Director Stefano Sollima and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) are not working with ground-breaking material here. Nevertheless, the film is stuffed with clichés, including:
(1) The ‘Russians’ are the bad guys … again.
(2) There’s a conspiracy that goes all the way to the very top.
Political correctness rears its ugly head as well. With the appearance of a female Navy SEAL? Also, supporting actors Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce sleepwalk through their roles and contribute to the movie’s low-energy vibe.
There is plenty of action, but none of it is very interesting or exciting to watch. Despite the film’s R-rating, Without Remorse feels oddly sanitized and neutered. For example, a fight between the Russian police and John in a stairwell is dimly lit and lacks visceral appeal. It is also frustrating to see John’s violent revenge story become diluted into a generic geopolitical thriller. The only real exciting scene is when John interrogates a Russian diplomat inside a burning car.
Michael B. Jordan is decent enough and likable but not outstanding. Even so, the rest of the cast is not impactful and blends into the background. Stefano Sollima seems to be going through the motions on this project. Nowhere as raw or brutal as his previous film, Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018).
Recommended if you are starving for an action film, otherwise stick with CBS’s underrated SEAM Team series.
This film is available for viewing on Amazon Prime.
By: John Matrix