Without Remorse (2021)

"The guy they found in my bedroom, I didn't kill him. He was already dead when I got there. One got away. all I need is a name. Give me a name""The guy they found in my bedroom, I didn't kill him. He was already dead when I got there. One got away. all I need is a name. Give me a name"

“The guy they found in my bedroom, I didn’t kill him. He was already dead when I got there. One got away. all I need is a name. Give me a name”

Watching Without Remorse one emotion and one emotion only is felt. Remorse, actual remorse for taking precious time, sitting down on a day off and watching this movie from start to finish. I like I’m sure every single person on this planet doesn’t like having their time wasted but nearly 2 hours of my time was wasted watching the events of Without Remorse play out. There isn’t a single promising thing about this convoluted plot that makes any sense and yet Taylor Sheridan who has had the best winning streak in recent memory wrote this screenplay with Will Staples.

If there is a plot, it must of went way over my head. The basic premise is this: A Navy Seal seeks revenge for the murder of his 9-month pregnant wife and daughter by Russian Hitmen that were probably contracted by the US Government to start a war. I’m sorry, but what purpose is there for starting a war? Is there even a reason? Who knows, it’s never fully explained or developed into a solid idea. the film is different from the original novel – Without Remorse is a modern take compared to the novel which takes place in Vietnam era. The havoc that’s enacted by John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) is pointless besides the blind furious revenge – all it is, is a tornado of bullets rained down without a second thought to the meaning. 

Most of the time, action is meant to compliment the plot, push it forward and be the result of all the tension that’s built up. Without Remorse’s action sequences, although look pretty and shot decently, are overwhelmingly empty, providing no substance to the story or lack thereof.  It’s a shame because the choreography is somewhat promising despite it leaning on the generic side, but it can’t save the shot down plane that is free falling out of the sky. 

Without Remorse offers little to nothing for its characters that inhabit the world created by Tom Clancy. The only character with any semblance of development is John Kelly, everyone else is instantly forgettable. Maybe Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Bell) but only for the ties to Jack Ryan but other than that forming a connection to anyone is near impossible. It’s a talented cast too but their talent is never fully utilized. Because Without Remorse has a weak plot the movie suffers from an identity crisis. Deputy Director Ritter (Jamie Bell) is looked at as the villain for 3 quarters of the film whereas the actual villain is Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce) who has zero motivation for killing an innocent 9-month pregnant woman that sets the events in motion. Pearce is too talented to be wasted in this capacity – his character has maybe 5 minutes of actual screen time. What kind of role for a villain is that? There is no presence to the character or a type of imposing will.   

Michael B. Jordan carries this lifeless action movie on his back. He gives a solid effort in his performance, but it ultimately amounts to nothing. His performance is the only redeeming quality of this basic espionage thriller. In fact, all the spy elements are non-existent. Any sort of tension that’s built up ends up fading away when the credits roll. There’s even an end credit scene that teases Rainbow 6 but by that point waiting for that scene isn’t worth it, you just want to get the bad taste out of your mouth and move on with your day. 

Director Stefani Sallima chooses to focus on the action leaving little to no room for a potential story to poke its head through the curtain. This strategy could have worked if there was any substance to the story. Instead Without Remorse mirrors a video game. It reminds me of last years Extraction – the story wasn’t anywhere to be found along with character development but where the two differ is in the action sequences and stunt coordination. Without Remorse feels uninspired and stiff when the action starts, All involved look like mindless drones.

if you go into Without Remorse with zero expectations than there is no disappointment. It’s pure mindless entertainment in that regard. Most times with action films of this scope, the build up leads to a final battle that could take your breath away. That climatic moment is sorely missed here leaving with an unresolved conclusion. There is a set up to the future but at least go out with a bang.

Without Remorse asks more questions than it answers. Most of them starting with why and a lot of hair puling along with it. In the end, it’s a failed attempt to adapt the novel of the same name by author Tom Clancy. Usually, Tom Clancy adaptations are pretty solid so deciphering the cause for this giant mess is puzzling.

At least Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell have some type of chemistry type. The two reunite after both appearing in that abysmal Fantastic Four reboot from 2015. How unfortunate is it they both end up in another film that goes nowhere. 

Without Remorse is basic on all fronts. The underlying issues all stem from the thinly written screenplay which can’t rest all on Taylor Sheridan who rewrote a script that’s decades old and much of the novel has been reworked to fit this project on screen. Pacing is all out of whack – its high-octane action from the start with no slowing down to let anyone relax or take a breath. At least let the team recover from their loses. Even with the fast pace the nearly two hours is excruciatingly long. 

Maybe Without Remorse would have landed better if it was made into a series. Look at how successful Jack Ryan has been. Or perhaps a video game would have suited this story better, the action alone is enough to dazzle on a next gen console but it fails to leave any lasting impact on screen.

So, tell me, have you seen Without Remorse and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Without Remorse is written by Taylor Sheridan & Will Staples, directed by Stefano Sollima is Rated R and has a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. Without Remorse was released on April 30, 2021 in the United States and has a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. Without Remorse can be streamed on Amazon Prime. 1 out of 5.  

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