We’ve been introduced to Jack Ryan five times throughout five movies and one television series. After more than thirty years of rehashing the same character, it’s about high time a Tom Clancy adaptation shined the spotlight on someone else. Without Remorse is based on Clancy’s 1993 novel, part of the larger “Ryanverse.” This thriller shifts the focus to John Clark, who Liev Schreiber played in The Sum of All Fears. Willem Dafoe was the first to take a crack at the character in Clear and Present Danger. A Without Remorse adaptation has been in development hell for years with Keanu Reeves and Tom Hardy both considered to portray Clark.
Without Remorse has finally made it to the
big small screen with Michael B. Jordan in the lead role. Casting is the key in any Tom Clancy adaptation, as most movies based on his work hit the same bullet points. It takes a great actor to elevate such familiar material, and thankfully for this film, Jordan is up to the task. As was the case with Creed, Jordan’s performance helps to distinguish Without Remorse from its predecessors. What the film lacks is a director of Ryan Coogler’s caliber. While Stefano Sollima is a capable filmmaker, he doesn’t go beyond what’s expected from an action thriller such as this.
The set pieces are intense, but many of them materialize into straightforward shootouts. Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the nail-biting Hell or High Water and Sicario, was brought in to provide rewrites. Even with his touch, though, the story doesn’t have many surprises. Interestingly, it’s the dramatic moments where Without Remorse shines the most. An emotional gut-punch comes early on when Clark’s wife Pam (Lauren London) is taken out by Russian assassins. Although we see this moment coming from a mile away, Jordan’s brief screen time with London paints a genuine rapport. When Clark stumbles upon the scene, Sollima wisely keeps the camera on Jordan, letting the pain seep in.
This naturally sets the stage for a revenge mission as Clark unravels a conspiracy that may involve his own government. Jodie Turner-Smith gave an underrated performance as one half of the titular duo in Queen & Slim. She continues to build up an impressive filmography as Karen Greer, Clark’s former Navy SEAL team member. While this character wasn’t in any of the Clancy books, she may be a relative of James Greer, who James Earl Jones portrayed in three films. Jordan’s dynamic with Turner-Smith is among the film’s best elements. Clark isn’t afraid to unleash his emotions while Greer is more reserved, although both are willing to bend the rules. They balance each other out nicely, and the fact that their relationship remains platonic is refreshing.
Jordan and Turner-Smith are what make Without the Remorse worthwhile. If you’re a fan of Tom Clancy, the film delivers precisely what you expect and does so competently. If it weren’t for the performances, there wouldn’t be much to recommend to non-Clancy fans. Anyone who’s been avidly following Jordan’s career, however, will want to add this film to their watch list. A Rainbow Six adaptation seems inevitable, and as long as Jordan’s attached, this franchise may have potential.