Review | Tom Clancy's Without Remorse

Review | Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse

“Without Remorse is tired, predictable, and average. It’s not the film or the characters that need remorse. It’s the audience who sits and watches it”

The long-awaited adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse has finally arrived. But was it worth the wait?

It is a shame that many of the movies that were due to hit theatres in 2020 have ended up on streaming sites. Some of the movies are worthy of the big-screen treatment. Paramount sold the adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel ‘Without Remorse‘ to Prime Video. The film was due to hit theatres in September before being shunted to an April release. I love the book itself and am a big Clancy fan. The question that needs to be answered is, is it any good? Or is the film, as the title suggests, without remorse quality-wise?

WITHOUT REMORSE | PRIME VIDEO

Tom Clancy fans beware. This is ‘Without Remorse‘ in name only. It deviates from the book so much that it is unrecognizable. Clancy would be turning in his grave if he was to see what they have done to his classic novel. Updating the story for modern times is one thing. To rip it up and urinate on it as is done here is something else. This isn’t so much an adaptation. It’s more in line with an attempt to launch a new franchise. And believe me, when I say, I seriously hope it doesn’t. There is a mid-credits sting which any Clancy fan will guess at straight away that is a set up a second film. I seriously hope it doesn’t come to pass.

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Michael B. Jordan stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
MICHAEL B. JORDAN

Michael B. Jordan plays Senior Chief John Kelly. He leads a team of US Navy SEALs into a war-torn Syria. He and the team are tasked by CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) to rescue an operative from Syrian forces. All goes well until, during the rescue, Kelly discovers they are not Syrian but ex-Russian forces. He and his team complete the rescue as ordered and evacuate before an airstrike destroys all the evidence that the Russians were ever operating there.

Three months later and Kelly and his wife, Pam (Lauren London) are expecting their first baby. Two of his SEAL team are murdered before the assassins come for Kelly. His wife and unborn daughter are murdered while Kelly himself, after killing all but one of the killers, is gunned down and left for dead. Kelly is rushed to the hospital where he is not expected to survive. But against the odds, he pulls through.

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Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
KAREN GREER

In Washington, Ritter alongside Kelly’s former SEAL team member Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), the niece of James Greer (Clancy fans will know who he is) meet with the Secretary Of Defense, Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce, wasted here) to discuss their response options. Leaked information of a Russian attack on U.S soil has strained relations between the two superpowers. And soon, the two countries could enter into a full-scale war. Meanwhile, Kelly is looking for revenge.

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Michael B. Jordan stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
R-RATING?

The film has an R rating in the United States. My question is WHY? Apart from a brief sight of blood, the violence is on par with a James Bond film. This isn’t the nasty and violent thriller that Clancy wrote. This is a severely watered-down film that bears little resemblance to the source material. Jordan is good as Kelly but is let down by the material he has to work with. Turner-Smith looks bad-ass as Karen Greer but is made to glower most of the time. And has little characterization to work with for her character.

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Jodie Turner-Smith stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
CHARACTERS

The same goes for Jamie Bell. Clancy fans will know that Ritter is a slimy, dirty, double-dealing bastard. Bell is handed the character with that brief but is left to swim with little to work with. And that makes him a one-dimensional could-be villain of the piece. Pearce’s screentime leaves the viewer in no doubt that he is an afterthought. A character who is just thrown in to further complicate the story. If he was there to flesh out the story, then fine. But he isn’t. For the most part, he is a distraction. And that seriously hampers the film.

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Guy Pearce stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
A MUDDLED PLOT

Plotwise, after the opening assault, which is as good as it gets, it is confusing, muddled, and at times, downright stupid. The plotline was there for the filmmakers to use and work with. Instead, it is jettisoned in favor of a muddled revenge story that doesn’t really go anywhere. Yes, there are twists and turns along the way. But they are so predictable and telegraphed that they are not a surprise. And herein lies the main problem with the film. It is predictable. Where the film could keep the audience guessing, it instead tips its hand way ahead of time.

The film most certainly isn’t the worst film that’s ever been made. But it is incredibly far from being the best. A film of this kind should keep the audience on the edge of their seats. It should blow the audience away. It should be full of twists and turns along with great surprises. Instead, we are given something predictable, unsurprising, and, to be honest, extremely average. There are parts of the film that will hold the attention of the viewer. But they are very few and far between.

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Michael B. Jordan stars in WITHOUT REMORSE Photo: Nadja Klier © 2020 Paramount Pictures
PARAMOUNT

Paramount sold the film to Prime Video. And you can see why. If the studio had released the film theatrically, it would have tanked big time. It would have been in multiplexes for two weeks before slinking off to streaming services a month later. It most certainly not been a huge money-spinner. To be honest, it would have been better to adapt the story into a continuing series that shows the entire story. Instead, we are given something that is only slightly above the straight-to-video fare that always appears. Most of the time, these films arrive with little fanfare and are just time fillers or rip-offs. While ‘Without Remorse‘ isn’t a rip-off, it shouldn’t be the start of a new franchise. Or earn a sequel. Michael B. Jordan tries his best but is let down by a turgid script. He deserves much better. And so, frankly, does the audience.

VERDICT

IN CONCLUSION: Without Remorse is tired, predictable, and sadly average. It’s not the film or the characters that need remorse. It’s the audience who sits and watches it.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse launches on Amazon Prime Video from April 30.

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