With Covid closing our cinema doors for almost a whole year, many of us have been craving our blockbuster action movie ‘fix’. Cue in Amazon Studios new original movie ‘Without Remorse‘. Released on April 30th 2021 and loosely based on the Tom Clancy book, Michael B Jordan puts on his producer cap whilst he takes on the iconic lead role of Sr. Chief John Kelly in an explosive revival of the Tom Clancy universe.
Directed by Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of Soldado) and written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) and Will Staples (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), Without Remorse follows the origin story of action hero John Kelly, an elite Navy SEAL on a mission to uncover an international conspiracy after a tragic chain of murders.
Alongside Michael B Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith takes on the role of Karen Greer a fellow SEAL, joined by Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), a shadowy CIA agent. The film opens with John Kelly and his team carrying out a top secret operation. This subsequently leads to a decision which will provoke a retaliation from a squad of Russian soldiers, that will eventually expose a covert plot which threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war.
Very early on we are faced with a significantly intense and emotional moment, which sets up the motivation for the rest of the narrative. This scene also showcases the wonderful talent of Michael B Jordan as his tough character suffers a severe tragedy leaving him feeling helpless and weak. The audience are able to relate and his performance during this scene feels painfully real. Jordan enables us to evoke a strong sense of empathetic emotions that entices audiences to share the lead character’s thirst for justice.
Despite the common expectations that most modern action movies face, Without Remorse really attempts to hold its ground by delivering its own intricate plot without sugar coating the overall narrative. Yes, there are moments which feel predictable and at times it looks cool for the sake of looking cool. However, this is not just a simple revenge movie with ‘evil Russians’ as the bad guys. There is much more on offer if you pay attention to the deeper details of the subtext.
Originally starting his career as a news camera operator (within real life war zones), Stefano Sollima is able to bring a distinct directing style which compliments the mature nature of the narrative. The action sequences feel gritty and authentic. Unlike most other action movies, there are no cheesy lines or tacky scenes that left us cringing in our seats. Saying that, there are some striking moments which left us in total shock. For example, in one scene, Michael B Jordan lights a car on fire before jumping into it to threaten another character. Literally, no remorse.
In conjunction to the mature narrative, Jodie Turner-Smith brought to life a powerful character who was not throttled by the usual action movie tropes which commonly objectify the female leads in order to make them seem powerful. Karen Greer was respectfully powerful and her gender played no role in that. This is refreshing to see in an action movie.
Despite the well suited casting, there are some moments where the dialogue falls flat, which, in return highlights a monotonous chemistry between characters. We understand that building chemistry during a global pandemic is difficult, however, there are times where it is very noticeable, thus resulting in some dialogue scenes feeling tedious. In contrast, the fiery action scenes fit in perfectly. Towards the end, there is an underwater scene where John Kelly is trapped in a car. Michael B Jordan’s performance is outstanding during this scene. During a press conference, Jordan told us that he learnt to hold his breath for the whole length of a song. – Incredible!
Overall, Without Remorse is an enjoyable film. It is unfortunate that this movie missed out on a big screen release as we feel it would have been best viewed in theatres. However, this does not take away from the relentless grasp Michael B Jordan has while he dominates this movie. Without Remorse has a complexed narrative which was easy to follow and mirrors the xenophobic errors that modern society are currently facing. This leaves audiences with an opportunity to feel reflective. Despite its flaws, we look forward to seeing a sequel and hopefully by then, the chemistry will shine on screen.
© The South London Film Festival – All rights reserved