Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 49 minutes, Director – Stefano Sollima
When his pregnant wife (Lauren London) is killed in the night Navy-SEAL John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) takes it upon himself to get revenge, uncovering a potentially bubbling war between the US and Russia.
Without Remorse is potentially one of the biggest tests of Michael B. Jordan’s career so far. There are a number of occasions throughout it’s fairly by-the-numbers 109 minute run-time where his charisma has a lot of heavy lifting to do. And he manages to come out of it unscathed, giving a good performance within an otherwise somewhat generic film.
Jordan plays Navy-SEAL John Kelly, an expectant father who returns from a complicated mission in Syria to almost instant tragedy. Woken up in the middle of the night to a deadly home invasion he finds his pregnant wife (Lauren London) killed, with many of his team from his most recent mission suddenly murdered too with what appear to be expert executions. Kelly takes it upon himself to find the people behind this, despite conflicting messages, even on home soil, with the sole intent of revenge. There’s no denying his skills, which certainly make for a handful of engaging action beats, and it only makes the threat that he poses that much greater. You begin to look forward not to seeing potential enemies be on the receiving end of his attacks, but just to see him get to work in whichever country he finds himself dropped into.
With a script co-written by Will Staples (who has action experience having written for the highly successful Call Of Duty video game franchise) and Taylor Sheridan (behind hits such as Sicario – director Stefano Sollima directed the underrated sequel) there are still a handful of scenes that feel like a mid-90’s action-thriller. Likely effects from the film having been in production since around this time, the Tom Clancy novel of the same name it’s based on published in 1993, with various screenplays adapted and re-worked over time. It’s perhaps because of this that the film has a rather predictable feel about it, particularly when it comes to it’s final stages and major reveals. Yet, there’s still a watchability to the piece. Perhaps it’s the conventional nature that allows it to go by with little issue, the feeling of it being familiar?
The plot certainly doesn’t seem to be the main reason for engagement within the piece. Themes of who the leader of Kelly’s grief is never quite has the impact that it should, although this is the case for a number of the points in which the film attempts to get an emotional response of some kind from the viewer. The core engagement is with Jordan’s central performance and the slight bursts of close-up action where the final impact may not be anything grand, but there’s certainly some mild entertainment value while it’s happening. Very much a reflection of the overall impact that Without Remorse has overall, perfectly fine while watching although not with any major impact.
Michael B. Jordan’s charisma remains solidly intact, and, alongside some bursts of brief action, helps elevate the otherwise by-the-numbers nature of Without Remorse’s forgettable narrative.