LONDON: John Clark, the frighteningly efficient former Navy Seal who forms an integral part of Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” series, has been portrayed by no less than three different actors before getting his own headline gig in 2021’s “Without Remorse.” Michael B. Jordan picks up where Willem Defoe (“Clear and Present Danger”), Liev Schreiber (“The Sum of All Fears”) and John Hoogenakker (Amazon Prime’s “Jack Ryan” series) left off — although “Without Remorse” is something of a reboot of Clancy’s character, giving Clark a new, tweaked backstory and planting the seed for a Jordan-fronted series of movies.
“Without Remorse,” which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, drops Clancy’s original Vietnam War-set backstory, updating the action to modern day Syria. Jordan begins the movie as John Kelly, leader of a Seal team tasked with recovering an operative for CIA man Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). As members of the team return to the US, their families are targeted by persons unknown and Kelly deploys his considerable skillset to track down whomever is responsible.
Italian director Stefano Sollima (“Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) keeps the action tight and the movie (relatively) short. There are some visceral set pieces, claustrophobic gunfights and convoluted special ops in abundance and Jordan brings some humanity to Clancy’s often very dark character. He’s backed by an able supporting cast — Bell is a creepy company man, Jodie Turner-Smith is a kick-ass Navy Seal, and Guy Pearce seems to enjoy himself as Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay. In all honesty, “Without Remorse” is a decent, serviceable action movie — albeit one with a literary connection that doesn’t do much for it. The movie seems torn between a desire to stay true to elements of Clancy’s universe and a need to act as a springboard for a new, modern thriller franchise. The plot is predictable, the story beats are telegraphed and the performances (while decent) are uninspiringly familiar. With the aforementioned sequel seemingly inevitable, “Without Remorse” has succeeded in laying the groundwork. Let’s hope that, in the next installment, there’s something more to say.