In his 1993 best-seller Without Remorse, novelist Tom Clancy introduced Navy SEAL John Kelly, a character in the Jack Ryan series who has been previously been played on-screen by Liev Schreiber (The Sum of All Fears) and Willem Dafoe (Clear and Present Danger). Now it’s Michael B. Jordan’s turn.
As this espionage thriller begins, Kelly’s head emerges from underwater in full scuba gear. He’s on a mission to extract an ‘asset’ out of Aleppo in Syria, where he and his men must unexpectedly battle Russian soldiers instead of the mercenaries that his CIA boss (Jamie Bell) said would be guarding the hostage.
Returning home, Kelly is ready to retire from the military since his wife Pam (Lauren London) is seven-months pregnant and the idea of a peaceful family life beckons. But that’s not going to happen.
Russian nationals are determined to retaliate against every Navy SEAL on the Aleppo mission. In a stealthy home invasion, Kelly’s wife and unborn daughter are executed. Kelly manages to kill three of the gunmen and vows to hunt down the fourth.
Although the CIA refuses to certify a revenge mission, grief-stricken Kelly garners ‘intelligence’ from his Navy SEAL Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). Sanctioned by the Secretary of Defense (Guy Pearce), Kelly joins an elite squad sneaking into the Russian port city of Murmansk to uncover a ruthless Cold War conspiracy.
Adapted as an all-too-familiar origin story by Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone) and Will Staples (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), it’s tautly directed by Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado), working with cinematographer Philippe Rousselot to effectively stage three exciting action sequences.
Despite the script’s shortcomings, Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) emerges as a charismatic action hero, and the mid-credits conclusion leaves Kelly – now known as John Clark – ready for sequels.
Full Disclosure: My son, Don Granger, is listed as one of the executive producers.
On the Granger Gauge, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is a suspenseful 6, streaming on Amazon Prime.