Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021) Movie Review

Reliant on specific political clichés and a twist the audience will see coming from a mile away, Without Remorse is utterly bland and devoid of moxie.

Directed by Stefano Sollima from a screenplay by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, Without Remorse — which is based on the novel by Tom Clancy — is a slog to get through. Michael B. Jordan takes center stage here and, though the actor has all the charisma and talent in the world to pull anything off, it still isn’t enough to make the film worthwhile. Reliant on specific political clichés and a twist the audience will see coming from a mile away, Without Remorse is utterly bland and devoid of moxie. 

The film opens in Syria, where John Kelly (Jordan), a Navy SEAL, is in the midst of a top secret operation. Although the mission is seemingly a success, he senses something isn’t quite right about it. At the moment, however, nothing much can be done. Months later, John retires from the navy and returns home to his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London), taking a job with a private security company to make ends meet. He’s looking forward to starting this new chapter of his life with a growing family when a group of Russian soldiers, angry about the interference of the U.S. in their Syrian operations, break into John’s home and kill his wife. This sets John on a revenge-fueled mission that sees him inadvertently uncovering a covert operation that is raising the tension and fueling the fire of an all-out war between the U.S. and Russia.

Related: Without Remorse Trailer: Michael B. Jordan Goes On A Rampage Of Revenge

Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan in Without Remorse

Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan in Without Remorse

Without Remorse is an origin story for John Kelly, who is best known by his alias John Clark in Clancy’s novels and the subsequent film adaptations centering CIA agent Jack Ryan (where Clark has been played by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber). However, the film is undeserving of Jordan’s talents, with the story entirely uninterested in Kelly as a person beyond what he can do in the field. This undercuts the character’s development and determination at every turn, with the film struggling to find enough energy to make up for a one-dimensional character.

It also leaves Jordan — whose skill as an actor is well-documented in films like Creed, Just Mercy, Fruitvale Station and Black Panther — little in the way of expressing anything beyond stoicism. He expresses anguish following the death of his wife and it’s visceral and effective, but every other emotion feels one-note. The plot is straightforward, yet heavily restrained, stripped of the very elements that would have made it a riveting watch. Killing John’s wife so that he can set off on his revenge-seeking mission was also frustrating, especially considering John’s prior involvement in the plot. Killing a woman for a man’s pain is tired and didn’t need to be employed here for John’s storyline to be effective.

Guy Pearce stars in Without Remorse

Guy Pearce stars in Without Remorse

Even the action in Without Remorse is uninspired, with the film engaging in too many shoot-outs and explosions in action sequences that overstay their welcome and are altogether boring to watch. There’s no excitement in the action’s staging or choreography and the scenes themselves are poorly lit, making it hard to see much of what’s going on. There are also no high-octane thrills to be found when John finds himself on a plane taking a nose-dive toward the ground or when he’s in the middle of a heated exchange that leads him to drive a car off of a bridge. To be sure, Jordan performs these actions, including jumping into a burning car he lit on fire, with a lot of gusto, but it isn’t enough. 

What’s more, the film attempts to subvert dated politics, but falls short in addressing what’s put forth in a thoughtful or intriguing way. The big twist doesn’t illicit a gasp nor is it intense enough to warrant anything more than a shrug. The film seems determined not to engage with its material in any meaningful way and that takes the wind right out of its sails. The cast — which includes Guy Pearce, Jamie Bell, and Jodie Turner-Smith — is wasted in scenes that don’t have much substance, saying dialogue that is more often than not quite rigid. Without Remorse is a thriller that hinges on an intriguing premise, but isn’t bold enough to go all in on a major twist that comes far too late in the game. 

Next: The Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

Without Remorse is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video April 30, 2021. The film is 110 minutes long and is rated R for violence. 

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments!

Our Rating:

2 out of 5 (Okay)

  • Without Remorse (2021)Release date: Apr 30, 2021

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