(2021) (Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Dramatic Thriller: After his wife and some of his team are murdered by Russian operatives, a Navy SEAL sets out to settle the score with those responsible.
John Kelly (MICHAEL B. JORDAN) is a Navy SEAL who, with his team, successfully rescues a kidnapped CIA operative in Syria. But like his commander, Karen Greer (JODIE TURNER-SMITH), John is startled to learn that the kidnappers are ex-Russian military forces, something their CIA liaison, Robert Ritter (JAMIE BELL), seemed to know going in.
Their killing of those Russians, however, has repercussions back home when some of those SEALS are murdered. John is also a target but manages to survive, unlike his pregnant wife. After recuperating, he gets his revenge on the Russian official who ordered the hit, but learning the name of the man who killed his wife, he convinces Secretary Clay (GUY PEARCE) to allow him to join Greer's mission to find that man.
- OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
I don't know if it was the first piece of fiction to use the line, but one of the most memorable bits of dialogue about vengeance comes from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" where the titular character states, "Ah Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space."
Elsewhere in the film, Ricardo Montalbán wonderfully chews up the scenery while adding, "Surely I have made my meaning plain. I mean to avenge myself upon you, Admiral. I deprived your ship of power and when I swing around, I mean to deprive you of your life. But I wanted you to know first who it was who had beaten you."
That pretty much sums up any revenge-based dramatic thriller before and after that 1982 flick, and it certainly applies to "Without Remorse." It's the latest adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, this one the 1993 work of the same name (which, for full disclosure, I have not read so comparisons are moot).
In it, Michael B. Jordan plays John Kelly, a patriotic Navy SEAL and very soon-to-be father based on the size of his pregnant wife's belly. But before welcoming that bundle of joy into the home, he has a mission and that's to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative from a building in Aleppo. He has his team get the job done, but he's stunned to learn that the bad guys they've killed are ex-Russian military forces who have a depot of weapons in that building, something their CIA guide, Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), has not disclosed.
Not long after that, one of his team members is run over by a van and another is shot dead in his car. And then the assassins come looking for him at his home. His wife and unborn child are killed, he's wounded, and when he's fully recovered, he wants revenge, something his immediate superior, Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), helps him with before realizing how far he'll take that. All of which impresses Secretary Clay (Guy Pearce) who then overrules Karen's objections to John being part of a capture or kill mission involving one of those assassins.
That's about it for the plot in Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples' adaptation of Clancy's work, not including the obligatory discovery that those in power don't necessarily have the best interests in mind for the pawns they're deploying. If that sounds like a spy or military thriller from the 1980s or '90s, director Stefano Sollima certainly imbues the flick with lots of qualities that fueled those films so long ago.
While noting the uber familiar material and lack of a dynamic storyline outside of the revenge (which is a bit of a surprise considering Sheridan's involvement -- he wrote "Sicario" among other notable works), Jordan is magnetic in the lead role, Turner-Smith is solid as his commander, and the action scenes are decently choreographed and executed.
All of which means if you're looking for anything original, you're going to be disappointed. But if you dug those sorts of films back in the day -- or even now -- and enjoy watching revenge be dished up, well, cold, this might be right up your chilly cinematic alley. "Without Remorse" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.
Reviewed April 27, 2021 / Posted April 30, 2021
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