Situating most of its action in 2019, “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” updates Clancy’s 1993 novel by starting with a prologue in Aleppo, Syria, and referring to the Russian military presence in the country. But geopolitics and the relative lack of cyber-anything otherwise dates the film to a barely post-Cold War period, while the mechanics of the plot grind like remnants of Charles Bronson’s heyday.
Michael B. Jordan plays John Kelly, a Navy SEAL whose pregnant wife (Lauren London) is killed when Russian agents invade their home, intending to fire him. A sympathetic colleague of the SEALs (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Secretary of Defense (Guy Pearce) relax protocol to help Kelly get revenge, but a CIA official (Jamie Bell) gets angry, signaling viewers that he secretly works for the other side. – or at least that the writers, Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, need them to think that. (Either way, Bell could reduce the superciliousness.)
The director, Stefano Sollima (“Sicario: Day of the Soldado”), handles the work with a minimum of zest, relying on a score by Jonsi (of Sigur Ros) for the ambient energy. Even the visuals are gray and indifferent, and the shorter-than-expected uptime doesn’t match a brisk pace.
Three pieces arrested – an ambush outside Dulles airport; a creatively executed hostage-taking in a prison; a plane crash – raise the pulse of the film, but most of “Without Remorse” is surprisingly drab, more concerned with laying the groundwork for the franchise than being exciting on its own terms. Jordan makes a pretty robust action hero, but the character as described gives him no outline to play with.
Tom Clancy’s Without remorse
Noted R. The human toll of espionage. Duration: 1 hour 50 minutes. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.