Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021): Solid Action But Plot and Characters Needed More Work

Without Remorse is a Tom Clancy book I haven’t read yet. Based on the premise and story here I might though, especially if it develops the characters in this better than the film. This is a film where the core performances and action are solid but the script and supporting characters needed more development to make the film good. This film is enjoyable though and I do recommend it as a rental.

The film was directed by Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples.

The film follows John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) as he works to uncover a conspiracy of who is targetting him and his squad of former Navy SEALs.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – The action is great in this except for one sequence I’ll go into below. The tension is high and characters get hurt in fights. We also are given tight environments and situations are protagonists have to escape from. This and the squad in combat was solidly good through the film. It felt real and the action mostly mattered.

Secretary Clay – Guy Pearce plays the big bad who wants to united Americans against Russia by starting a war. He talks about how Americans are divided and that we haven’t been united since the Cold War. On paper this is good motivation but we never see this motive prior. He needed more development but was good because of Pearce’s performance.

Karen Greer – Karen Greer is John’s friend and squadmate who is looking out for him throughout the film. She has ambition but will always back him up in the end. Her helping John is what helps set the Russia mission in motion when he learns who killed his wife and unborn daughter. Jodie Turner-Smith does a great job and she’s the only memorable member of John’s squad.

John Kelly / John Clarke – Michael B. Jordan is fantastic as the ex-Navy SEAL out for revenge after a death squad kills his wife and unborn daughter. He plays the pain and rage so well as well as the focus and strength. You can see why he is leading the team and I was glad he succeeded and was able to save the rest of his squad in the mission in Russia.

The Cons:

The Rykov Reveal – Rykov says he and John are the same and that he is CIA but doesn’t elaborate. He only exists as a plot point to reveal the conspiracy when he killed John’s wife and unborn kid. He has all this setup as a villain and character and none of it is paid off in his motivations.

The Supporting Characters – Most of the characters in this are underdeveloped and flat. This applies to most of John’s squad as well as his wife and pastor. None of them get much development and the performances don’t elevate the material.

The Escape Sequence – The initial action against the snipers trying to start a war between Russia and the United States is good but when it is John against the Russian Police it goes on way too long and drags. In the end this lead to his escape feeling unbelievable and it took me out of the action.

This was an enjoyable rental that could have been more. There were interesting ideas here but the characters like Rykov, Secretary Clay and Ritter weren’t developed enough to make the film good. This film did illustrate how great Michael B. Jordan and Guy Pearce are as actors though as they did elevate this underdeveloped script to enjoyable. If you want a fun action movie this is worth a rent, just know these flaws going in.

Final Score: 7 / 10

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