Imagine the year is 1995, and a new big action blockbuster is opening up on Independence Day weekend. It's got the right amount of patriotism and an action star who's going up against those "shadowy government forces" who took everything away. Enter "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse," adapted from the book of the same name. We follow John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), an ex-navy seal who goes on a warpath against those who murdered his wife. This leads Kelly down a web of conspiracies and lies implanted within the country's government he was sworn to protect.
For something that could've starred Sylvestor Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jordan is an excellent change of pace. He grunts through the tough-guy dialogue with enough still and has noticeably done plenty of training. Seeing him go through nameless henchman is always entertaining and never overstays its welcome. The problem is when the action sequences talk and characters start to talk. These sequences involve the supporting cast, including actors like Jaime Bell, Guy Pearce, and Jodie Turner-Smith from "Queen and Slim." It's in these sequences that the film grinds to a screeching halt, simply from the fact of having heard these conversations countless times.
Each one follows one of two distinct narrative patterns this sort of film is known for. First, we have the dialogue scenes of "tough guy who doesn't play by the rules." The second is "we need to find a generic bad guy name before he launches a bomb to destroy the world!" When you've seen one of these sorts of sequences, then you've seen them all. Thankfully director Stefano Sollima clearly understands that the action is what's going to sell the audience. This is clearly understood from the first moment that we see Michael B. Jordan pop his head out of the water on the screen.
In the first half, we, as an audience, were truly dazzled with several impressive action sequences. Varying from nighttime operations, home invasions and plane crashes, there's no denying you'll be entertained. Jordan is compelling as our action star lead and makes the most of the training he had for the role. It's within the second half where characters' motivations are explained that I just got bored. A story such as this always requires you to have one supposed "good-guy" who we eventually find out had been a "bad-guy" all along. If you've seen enough of this sort of film, you'll be able to guess who fits that description by reading the IMDB credits.
The cast of "Without Remorse" is undoubtedly better than this material could ever dream of. There's enough of the commitment feeling on Jordan and all of these supporting players that fun can be had. What can't be shaken is the repetitive story beats that audiences have seen too many times before. Any fan of action cinema deserves better than a story we've seen 100 times over. This lets our lead and reasonably capable director understand they need to wow audiences with the action. That's where a simply average film can show glimmers of the potential these Tom Clancy adaptations could and should have.
As a streaming title, you can do a lot worse than the forgettable fun that "Without Remorse" has to offer. It's not a straight-up bad film, but one that leans a little too far into its genre's cliches. The cast is a game that keeps things from being a total snooze, but it's never quite as exciting as it could be. What's a rather frustrating detail is that the pieces are interesting enough. With the potential for a sequel, the only hope is that the pieces can make a better whole.
Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRpkRkO9KUI