Tom Clancy's Without Remorse



After 28 years, Tom Clancy’s 1993 novel finally reaches the ‘small’ screen and really doesn’t 

seem worth the effort.

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse

Getting a grip: Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan


From the title on down, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse smells of ego. Tom Clancy’s name is included in the title so that we don’t confuse it with Eric McClane's Without Remorse, a 2012 thriller that nobody saw. Or maybe it’s a marketing tool. Ooh, if it’s Tom Clancy, it must be good. He’s that writer whose books have sold more than 100 million copies. He’s also the writer who was paid $14 million for the US rights to the titular title, a record for a single novel. But possessive apostrophes in film titles do not bode well. Jaws did perfectly well without being called Peter Benchley’s Jaws. Ditto William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.


Be that as it may, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse has been in pre-production for 28 years and was originally due to star Keanu Reeves, and then Tom Hardy. In the meantime, Tom Clancy succumbed to heart failure (in 2013) and the production process trundled on. Eventually, Michael B. Jordan landed the role of the indestructible Navy SEAL John Kelly and production kicked off in October of 2019. Then the pandemic hit and the film’s theatrical release in September of 2020 was put on ice until Amazon Studios purchased it for digital distribution on Prime Video. What a palaver.


As it happens, the best thing about the film is, indeed, Michael B. Jordan, who lends considerable gravitas to the role of John Kelly. At times, he even resembles a real human being in amongst the endless shoot-outs and video game histrionics. It’s also refreshing to see a female African-American SEAL by Kelly’s side, albeit played by Jodie Turner-Smith, an English actress. She, too, brings gravitas to the proceedings. However, there’s little room for any more humanity, this being the sort of movie in which if a character has to go to the loo, it’s to be accosted by an assailant. You’d be surprised how many characters come undone in a public convenience these days.


The film opens in familiar vein. In a war-torn Middle Eastern city (Aleppo), US combatants shoot a lot of people and show just how tough and well-equipped they are. We then cut back to the US – Washington DC, Charlotte, Atlanta – and the real story kicks into gear. It seems there has been some Russian interference on US soil (as if) but the CIA is reluctant to start a fight – they don’t want to send the wrong message to Moscow. However, Kelly has a score to settle and doesn’t give a toss for US-Soviet relations. He volunteers his services and in a rare moment of B-movie levity he says: “They’re gonna need somebody like me. And there’s nobody like me.” Tom Clancy is at his best laying down the tripwires of international hostilities, but it all seems a little old hat now. The Russians are still coming, but their tactics have changed. To be fair to the director Stefano Sollima, the action scenes exude an air of authenticity and the sound design is particularly impressive. But the film is also dull and more than a little passé.




Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, Brett Gelman, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce, Todd Lasance, Cam Gigandet, Luke Mitchell, Artjom Gilz, Lucy Russell, Merab Ninidze, Alexander Mercury, Angus McGruther.


Dir Stefano Sollima, Pro Akiva Goldsman, Michael B. Jordan, Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, Ex Pro David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Grange, Brian Oliver, Bradley J. Fischer, Valerii An, Alana Mayo, Denis L. Stewart and Gregory Lessans, Screenplay Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, Ph Philippe Rousselot, Pro Des Kevin Kavanaugh, Ed Matthew Newman, Music Jónsi, Costumes Tiffany Hasbourne, Dialect coach Diego Daniel Pardo.


Paramount Pictures/Skydance Media/Weed Road Pictures/Outlier Society/New Republic Pictures/Midnight Radio Productions-Amazon Media.

109 mins. USA. 2021. Rel: 30 April 2021. Available on Amazon Prime. Cert. 15.