Action franchises follow a formula. That’s just how the vast majority of them operate. It’s in how they manipulate said formula in some manner of uniqueness (or lack thereof) that sets them apart. Some go in extreme directions. Others stay very close to the median. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is decidedly a film that falls into the latter category. Aside from the casting of Michael B. Jordan in the lead role, almost everything feels very safe and from a prior era. The movie is fine, but it’s not shocking that it was sold to Amazon, opting to focus on debuting this weekend on Prime Video. It’s likely to wind up living there in relative anonymity, too.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is perfectly serviceable, without ever distinguishing itself as something particularly noteworthy. For all the money, it feels like something build to play forever on cable, delighting dads across the world. Ironically, the Amazon purchase prevents that from happening, so it’s fair to wonder who’s actually going to seek this one out. It does what a decent action flick needs to do, but without any real sense of personality.
An origin story for John Clark, we meet him as John Kelly (Jordan), a top Navy SEAL. After a mission turns out more complex than expected, due in part to the presence of the CIA in the form of Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), an international conspiracy is uncovered. In short order, a squad of Russian soldiers is on American soil, taking out his squad, except for fellow SEAL Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). Not stopping there, the goons kill his wife (Lauren London) in retaliation for his role in the operation, though they fail at killing him. This sets him off on a mission of vengeance.
When his revenge lands John in jail, it takes Greer and Defense Secretary Clay (Guy Pearce) to spring him, for the express purpose of helping track down these Russians. After all, it seems for all the money like a war is brewing between the nations. Of course, the more John and company learn while investigating, the more complicated and dangerous things get.
Michael B. Jordan is an effective action hero, though his character doesn’t quite have the layers that the actor is capable of. It’s mostly about watching him kick ass and be intense, both of which he can do with aplomb. If a sequel does come about, hopefully Jordan’s character is developed even more. Jodie Turner-Smith elevates a very thin role, while Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce are thoroughly wasted. Supporting players here include Colman Domingo, Brett Gelman, Cam Gigandet, Jack Kesy, the aforementioned Lauren London, and more.
This is a reunion of sorts for part of the braintrust behind Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Director Stefano Sollima helms this one as well, while Taylor Sheridan co-writes here with Will Staples. None of the real complexities of Sheridan’s best scripts is on display here, so this feels very much like a for-hire paycheck gig. Sollima capable mounts the action, but there’s no real soul here. Sheridan, Sollima, and Staples ultimately produce something that’s disappointingly by the numbers.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse may never generate a sequel, but your dad is likely to enjoy this one quite a bit, if he can get on Prime Video. Michael B. Jordan fans will likely wish he had more to do here, but if this winds up creating a new franchise for him, that’s hardly something to complain about. The more you keep your expectations in check here, the more likely you are to find it to be passable entertainment.