Without Remorse (2021) (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse)
Without Remorse (2021) (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Release Date: April 30th, 2021 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Stefano Sollima Actors: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce, Jamie Bell, Lauren London, Jacob Scipio, Todd Lasance, Jack Kesy, Cam Gigandet

 


 

A

CIA operative is held hostage in Aleppo, Syria, which requires a team of Navy SEALs to penetrate a building, kill virtually all of the inhabitants, and rescue the prisoner. Those steps go smoothly enough, until Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) identifies an unexpected RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) that blows a hole in the floor, trapping one of his soldiers on a lower level. A firefight ensues, a death is incurred, and Russian military members are recognized – but the hostage is nevertheless successfully exfiltrated.

Three months later, In Washington, D.C., John is home with his pregnant wife (Lauren London), entertaining a gathering of friends. After the situation in Syria, he’s strongly considering retiring from the military to work in private security. But then, one night, his fellow special operations unit members from that last job are summarily executed, followed by an attempt on his own life by a squad of night-vision-equipped, black-garbed assassins, which he manages to wipe out (save for one), but not before they murder his wife and pump him full of lead.

Although John isn’t expected to pull through, he makes a slow recovery, fueled by a desire for revenge. Unfortunately, CIA Agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) determines that there isn’t enough intel to order a proper retaliation, causing Secretary Clay’s (Guy Pearce) hands to be tied, which prevents Kelly’s superior, Lieutenant Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), from doing anything about the matter, either. But she does procure the name of a Russian official, which she secretly passes to John – and that’s the only link he’ll need to exact his own brand of justice. “I’ll show them what a pawn can do to a king.”

Amusingly, politics plays a large role in covering up information and dictating the path Kelly must take to uncover the people behind his wife’s death. It also rears its head during briefings, accusations, motives, and assembling a new team; the optics of sneaking into Russia to nab a dangerous man – or to reap vengeance – must be carefully planned. But the sensible, sensitive approach to international conflict is eventually abandoned in favor of some spectacular action sequences, ranging from shootouts to snipers to a plane crash; high-octane adventure is a far more sellable concept, especially when the film is based on a novel by espionage maestro Tom Clancy (hence Russia serving as the villain, though essentially only the title and main character are used – virtually everything else from the book has changed).

“Death follows me around.” Jordan makes for a convincing warrior, the plot is circuitous enough to mark it as a mystery nearly as much as a thriller (no one can be trusted and everyone is capable of double-crosses), and the detonative showdowns arrive with welcome regularity. The intensity is maintained through frequent, harrowing scenarios; the pacing is smartly handled, even though many of the situations have appeared before in modern war flicks. Even when the storytelling takes a turn toward more generic fare, the hard-edged severity and absence of humor keep the film tense (the camerawork and editing are also expertly handled). Technically, “Without Remorse” is a top-notch actioner.

Unfortunately, the closer it gets to the conclusion, the more predictable and commonplace it all becomes, revealing very few tricks up its sleeves. With such an engaging start, the final revelations are a major letdown – so great, in fact, that it will be interesting to see if this picture manages enough commercial success to warrant the follow-up story, “Rainbow Six,” which boasts a far more lucrative and recognizable title. Nevertheless, there’s some satisfaction to be had every time the good guys prevail over the bad ones, especially when the ferociousness escalates and the bullets fly.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10