Without Remorse Review: Michael B Jordan Is Charismatic, The Film Is Not

For a thriller, this is not so thrilling

For those who grew up on Tom Clancy’s espionage thriller novels, Amazon Prime Video’s Without Remorse, based on the book of the same name by the celebrated author, was like hope in a sea of bad films 2021 has been churning out. To that, the fact that a charismatic and talented actor like Michael B Jordan was the lead was the icing on the cake. But once you’ve survived through the 2-hour long film, you realize with a dejected sigh that it was another one of Hollywood’s cliched and dull films this year. 

Anyone who has read the book will instantly notice that Without Remorse barely resembles its source material. But it does take away one pointer from the book, something Clancy has been criticized for in his past novels- for underrepresenting women. Here we have a team of special ops lead by a woman, but apart from a few scattered scenes of action all she gets to do is sit and brood in silence while the men carry out the main fighting. As for the other female characters, there are two- one once again is there to give stony glares and the other is merely there to give our protagonist i.e, Michael B. Jordan the traditional “purpose” to bring down hell on the wrongdoers. 

Without Remorse kicks off with Michael B Jordan’s John Kelly, a U.S. Navy SEALs officer, and his elite team conducting a mission to rescue a CIA operative. What they didn’t know was that those who held him captive were ex-Russian military forces. Three months later, while Kelly is busy celebrating his wife, Pam’s (Lauren London) pregnancy, Russian assassins are killing everyone from his team (including their families) one by one. 

But when they get to Kelly, all they manage to do is wound him and leave behind a man thirsting for revenge from those who killed his wife and unborn child. And from here starts the usual hide and seek game, gunfire, lots of action, and unearthing secrets that were not that hard to guess in Without Remorse. There is nothing new and even the cliched parts are haphazardly piled together in favor of Michael B Jordan’s action scenes. 

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We also have a talented actress like Jodie Turner-Smith, who floored the world with her acting in films like Queen & Slim, as Lt. Commander Karen Greer. Despite being a formidable presence, all she gets to do is fume in anger when her higher officials don’t listen to her and engage in action scenes where Michael B Jordan almost always gets the spotlight. Save for one teeny-tiny scene where she actually gets to take credit, there is nothing to establish that Without Remorse at least tried to present a strong female character. 

Hollywood has a history of such action thrillers centered around CIA operatives, mobs, US military officers, and terrorists. It has become so redundant that you can guess the main culprit long before the “hero” gets to them. Perhaps the only franchise that has survived the repetitive nature of this particular genre is the Mission Impossible films starring Tom Cruise. Call it the innovativeness of the plot in each film or the films’ lead’s soaring star power, they have been the only ones that continue to make money and drive viewers to the cinema theaters. But Without Remorse, despite the presence of Michael B Jordan and his passionate portrayal of his character, isn’t going to entice viewers to desire the sequel the film’s ending so obviously hints at. 

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