As proven in the sadly underappreciated Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018), director Stefano Sollima knows well how to pull off a gritty crime drama and even has a knack for staging some muscular action scenes. So, naturally, I have high hopes for him in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, where he teams up with screenwriter Taylor Sheridan again. And with Michael B. Jordan in the lead role, it looks as if this is the kind of a gripping action thriller worth streaming for (via Amazon Prime Video). Or so it seems.
Jordan plays John Kelly, who is part of an elite team of the US Navy SEALs. In a promising opening scene that takes place in Aleppo, Syria, we see Kelly along with his team’s leader, Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) and the rest of the crew on a rescue mission to save a kidnapped CIA operative. But there’s something about the mission that a shady CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) has been keeping everyone in the dark.
Upon returning home to the US, some of the team members from the rescue operation is being killed one by one. Kelly, on the other hand, manages to survive a few bullets but his pregnant wife (Lauren London) is shot dead by a mysterious group of heavily-armed hitmen. Soon, he sets out to find the truth and seeks revenge with the help of Karen.
Make no mistake, Sollima has again proved his worth in the action department. This can be evidently seen in the opening rescue scene as well as the brief but well-staged shootout at Kelly’s home and a major setpiece, where a plane is hit by enemy fire. Michael B. Jordan’s no-nonsense portrayal as the angry and vengeful John Kelly is on point here. His co-star, Jodie Turner-Smith delivers a solid supporting turn as Lt. Commander Karen Greer.
And yet, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse remains a missed opportunity. A huge one at that, beginning with the story that feels awfully generic and even too dour for its own good. Coming from the same screenwriter who gave us the first two Sicario and other notable works including Hell or High Water (2016) and Wind River (2017), this is actually a surprise to me. Not even with additional input from Will Staples, who wrote Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 video game and an episode for TV’s Shooter can do much to save the film from being such a mediocre piece of work.
So much for a film that could have been a potential franchise starter. Besides, the character in Tom Clancy’s book happens to be part of the Ryanverse tied with his famous Jack Ryan character. Jack Ryan, of course, is the CIA analyst first introduced on the big screen in The Hunt for Red October (1990) played by Alec Baldwin. But it wasn’t until Harrison Ford made the character more popular in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). Other actors who carried the role including Ben Affleck (2002’s The Sum of All Fears) and Chris Pine (2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) while the current one is John Krasinski, which can be seen in Amazon Prime Video’s Jack Ryan series.
Now, assuming a second film (that would be Rainbow Six) — as hinted in the mid-credits scene — is officially getting the green light, I sure hope they can do better the next time around.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video beginning April 30, 2021.