An elite Navy SEAL uncovers an international conspiracy while seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife.
Tom Clancy is the author behind the famous Jack Ryan series of books, which were eventually adapted to the big screen. While the original trilogy with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford is fondly remembered by most people, including myself, the XXI century’s reboots with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were nothing but failed attempts at reviving a movie franchise. John Krasinski’s TV show was apparently successful, but unfortunately, I didn’t watch it. So, why not a spin-off? Michael B. Jordan comes in for a supposedly two-part film series with John Kelly - famously known as John Clark - as the main character. Stefano Sollima rejoins forces with Taylor Sheridan - both worked on Sicario: Day of the Soldado - accompanied by the debutant co-writer, Will Staples.
I can’t consider myself a Jack Ryan “fan”, but I do remember enjoying the first three movies. I don’t possess any knowledge about the story told in the books or John Kelly himself, so I watched this Amazon Studios flick with simple expectations of receiving a decent enough action film. Overall, that’s precisely what I got. The runtime under two hours flies by due to the numerous action sequences, which are obviously the most entertaining element of the entire movie. From the long takes with intense fight choreography to the more steady, suspense-driven situations, Without Remorse doesn’t have extended intervals between each action set piece, which will satisfy viewers solely looking for the more energetic stuff.
The stunt work needs to be complimented. The team behind the riveting, loud, exciting action deserves to be addressed since they’re the ones who truly make this type of film popular and successful. With that said, every movie requires the two pillars of filmmaking - story and characters - to be well-built, which is something this film only partially accomplishes. Despite John Kelly holding a tragic, dark backstory and emotionally compelling motivations, his character arc follows the generic development formula viewers have seen previously in other movies of the same genre. Regarding the narrative, it’s really no more than a direct revenge story with an inconsequential, uninteresting socio-economic, political angle, all being easily predictable from the get-go.
Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) delivers a remarkable physical and emotional performance, carrying the whole film on his shoulders. By incorporating his character’s complicated, complex feelings of anger, grief, sadness, and sorrow, Jordan offers a captivating display that holds the viewers’ attention until the very end. Unfortunately, every other actor-character combo is so far away from the efficiency of the protagonist that all are pretty forgettable. From Jamie Bell’s (Rocketman, Snowpiercer) bland interpretation to Jodie Turner-Smith’s (Queen & Slim) forced efforts, the scripts for every secondary character are filled with either exposition or irrelevant pieces of dialogue.
Clearly, this is yet another attempt to revive an action saga, which I don’t think has a place today. From Mission: Impossible to John Wick, passing through Fast & Furious and the superhero universes, a Jack Ryan spin-off might just be interpreted as another random flick instead of serious competition to any of the before-mentioned franchises. Final praises to Philippe Rousselot’s camera work and Matthew Newman’s editing, which contributed to some impressive, entertaining scenes. In the end, that’s all that matters to a massive chunk of the audience.
Without Remorse follows a compelling protagonist in a path of revenge through suspenseful, intense action sequences triggered by the usual cliches and storytelling formulas of the genre. Michael B. Jordan is the star of the show, delivering a remarkably captivating performance that helps Stefano Sollima’s movie survive its unsurprising screenplay. Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples focus on building an interesting “hero”, but forget to apply that same level of dedication to the narrative and the secondary characters. Overall, it’s a fast-paced, action-driven film that will satisfy most viewers looking for something to watch on the weekend. Exceptional stunt work that must not be forgotten. However, if you desire a more creative, unique take on the Jack Ryan universe, maybe the sequel will do a better job.
Paramount, Weed Road Pictures, Skydance Media, Midnight Radio, Outlier Society Productions, New Republic Pictures, Amazon Studios by Stefano Sollima, Taylor Sheridan, Will Staples, Tom Clancy.
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell.
Genres: Action, Thriller, War
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