It’s 31 years since Tom Clancy’s Ryanverse novels spawned the start of six blockbuster action flicks, beginning with John McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October adaptation, and most recently with Amazon Prime’s spinoff television series. The political drama franchise began with CIA analyst-turned-man-of-action Jack Ryan, who’s been brought to life by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. The books have since evolved to incorporate key characters such as John Clark and Domingo Chavez, with the former finally getting his own origins tale in the first of Amazon Studios and Michael B. Jordan’s projects under the Outlier Society production banner. Based on the 1993 novel of the same name, Without Remorse finally hits Amazon Prime Video this week following a number of delays.
Directed by Stefano Sollima (Sicario 2: Soldado & ZeroZeroZero) Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse centres on the journey of elite Navy SEAL John Clark (Michael B. Jordan). Following the death of his wife at the hands of a squad of ruthless Russian assassins, Clark is hellbent on exacting revenge. Operating outside of official protocols, he joins forces with fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and shadowy CIA agent (Jamie Bell) on a mission to uncover the truth behind the assassinations. However, their covert operation exposes a shocking conspiracy which could inact an all-out war between the USA and Russia.
Acting as an origin tale to the fan favourite Clancy character, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse features hallmark story beats from the globe trotting, action thriller which will undoubtedly resonate with fans of the genre. Complete with familiar revenge narrative elements such as tested loyalties, an international conspiracy and plenty of twists and turns, the big budget flick does feel very similar to previous films such as the Bourne series and Enemy of the State. While it can stray into predictable territory at times, particularly pitting America against Russia, the breakneck pacing and action-packed sequences will keep you gripped throughout, along with Michael B. Jordan’s committed performance. It’s clear that Amazon Studios and Jordan are keen to kickstart a new twist on the Ryanverse, with sequel Rainbow Six in the pipeline, and for the most part it’s a fresh take on the source material. However, fans of the book may be disappointed that writer Taylor Sheridan didn’t stay true to the plot of the novel.
Michael B. Jordan brings all of his signature charisma, drive and physicality from Black Panther and Creed in a brilliantly committed leading role. It’s clear to see he poured so much into the role, with a gruelling training regime which involved significant underwater experience and handling numerous types of weapons. He also adds a compelling amount of depth to John Clark, particularly when acting alongside Jodie Turner-Smith’s Karen Greer. The two share a fantastic on-screen dynamic, with an endearing sibling-esque bond, and I love how Greer saves him on a number of occasions. Turner-Smith is also equally as impressive in the extended fight sequences and action scenes. Jamie Bell brings an interesting duality to CIA operative Robert Ritter, as you can’t quite work out who’s side he’s really on, while Guy Pearce does stray into clichéd territory with Secretary Clay.
Along with the fantastic performances, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse truly comes to life in the extensive big-budget action sequences which really do feel like an exciting live-action take on Splinter Cell. The opening operation featuring night vision goggles, a dark and shady warehouse and underwater sequences really does feel like an immersive slice of gameplay. There’s also numerous fight sequences and shoot outs which rival John Wick and Atomic Blond, with plenty of excellent choreography and stunt work – along with a hugely tense plane crash. While Michael B.Jordan and the crew did a significant amount of their own stunts, credit really does have to go to the brilliant team of stunt workers and fight choreographers. This film really does deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible, which is unfortunate as it will be streaming on Amazon Prime Video, I just hope for a limited theatrical run in the near future.
Featuring extraordinary big-budget action sequences and a hugely committed lead performance from Michael B. Jordan, Without Remorse is an impressive launch for Tom Clancy’s John Clark. While the central conspiracy narrative isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, the devoted turns from Jordan and Jodie Turner-Smith really do help in elevating the feature above previously similar films. Hopefully we’ll get to see Michael B.Jordan’s John Clark alongside John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan in a future team-up!