The legacy of Tom Clancy’s writing lives on in Stefano Sollima’s “Without Remorse” starring Michael B. Jordan as John Clark (Clancy’s other recurring character in addition to Jack Ryan). Clark will get his coming out party this week on Prime Video and it looks to deliver all the international espionage, intrigue, and deception that we are accustomed to seeing in Clancy’s Ryanverse. Jordan is more than capable of delivering all the layering this mysterious character needs, but does the story give him room to maneuver, inside of a plot-line that can bring something new to this genre?
Where “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” Thrives
Michael B. Jordan is without question the best element of “Without Remorse”. Clark has always been a character shrouded with layers of mystery. He’s a capable man, a dangerous man, and a man who has many of the darker personality traits that Clancy’s Jack Ryan is missing. All of which Jordan was able to pull into this character. He brought Clark to life to capture the deadly weapon he truly is, but Jordan was at the same time able to bring his own heart and personal layering to the role to make it his own. So, with a compelling figure in the lead, and Jordan’s searing portrayal, there is more than enough hero to invest in here.
The performances surrounding Jordan were all fantastic to complete a well-rounded group of characters. Guy Pearce and Jamie Bell were strong supporting players who brought life to recycled character types. But the true co-star for Jordan was Jodie Turner-Smith as Karen Greer. From emotional intensity to her chemistry with Jordan, to her physicality, she was a bad-ass character you can’t help but love and root for. She’s honorable, she’s loyal, and she delivered all this role needed. Her action scenes were legit, and her rapport with Jordan provided the needed history to effectively capture the admiration and respect they had for one another.
It was also a compelling origin story for this character. Clark has been around the Ryanverse for some time, and he’s seen his share of combat. So, watching Jordan as this man who seemed to relish situations that would make the toughest person cower, was a delight as a fan of action. Jordan put in the effort with the stunt work. The choreography and placement of the fight sequences did give them more of an impact, and on many occasions, I was up in my seat as the violence hit the screen. Which added nicely to a layered story you can invest in as well. It was familiar in many places, but it worked to line the action and gun-play with an undercurrent of deception to build serviceable dramatic intrigue when needed.
Where “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” Falters
Now I would say the issues with this film could be taken with a grain of salt. Like I mentioned, the plot-line is constructed of many familiar story-layers that we have seen in this, and other genres, many times in recent years. So, unpredictability isn’t really something this one can provide. It does deliver many unique situations to create its own vibe. However, the overall plot-progression is a bit easy to forecast. It was like “John Wick” with a military overcoat. I would’ve liked to see Clark’s origin play out closer to the novel, but it was clear the studio played it safe with a tried-and-true revenge story, infused with government espionage.
Final verdict on “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse”
Despite its by-the-numbers story progression, I think the performances and the detail in the action set-pieces make up for it. Sure, this one could’ve been much more unique had it told Clark’s story closer to what it was in the novel to give it a time-period backdrop. But the Jason Bourne styling to the character isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Jordan and Turner-Smith on their own are worth checking this one out. Although it does drop in plenty of adrenaline pumping moments to deliver a thrilling ride from the comfort of your couch.
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