‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ Movie Review: Michael B. Jordan Hunts For Clear and Present Patriots

John Clark was a character in Jack Ryan’s world. Willem Dafoe and Liev Schrieber played him in movies and now it’s Michael B. Jordan‘s turn. Author Tom Clancy wrote spinoff books exclusively about Clark, including Without Remorse.

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse: Michael B. Jordan holds a gun
Michael B. Jordan | Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

Who is John Clark in the book ‘Without Remorse’?

Without Remorse is the John Clark origin story, so much so that it begins before his name was even John Clark. The movie begins with John Kelly (Jordan) leading a team of Navy SEALS on a mission in Aleppo, Syria. When John gets home to D.C., he’s ready to retire into private security, which could’ve still led to plenty of action hero adventures, but retirement isn’t in the cards for John.

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A home invasion claims John’s loved ones and injures him. He rehabilitates in the hospital and agrees to join a mission to get the people responsible. It’s Steven Seagal’s Hard to Kill, only there’s no acupuncture involved in John’s rehab.

The action of ‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’

John goes on a bold offensive in public immediately after he’s discharged. You have our attention, John. There’s a lot more action than most Clancy movies. It’s still tactical. Each scene is about solving a problem, not just fighting and blowing stuff up. John even finds an advantage against an army of armored guards. 

Without Remorse: Michaele B. Jordan gets in Merab Ninidzes' car
L-R: Merab Ninidzes and Michael B. Jordan | Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

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The military operations look a bit like Tom Clancy Rainbow Six video games. There’s a squad marching through wartorn Syria, in a bombed-out building. But, the action is always clear. You can see who’s shooting at whom, and when a surprise makes things worse. The home invasion is also clear even though it’s dark. The scene utilizes limited light sources, but it’s not gimmicky. 

Without Remorse director Stefano Sollima always establishes the geography of every scene. For example, John drops his bag on the stairs. He’s on the top level and there are enemies between him and the bag. You know what he has to do to get what he needs. 

Michael B. Jordan on the stairs in 'Tom Clancy's Without Remorse'
Michael B. Jordan | Nadja Klier/ Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ ends on a downer 

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is exciting for most of its duration. Kelly’s team is in over their heads and you want to see them make it out. The plot is rather standard issue government conspiracy, but it continues to escalate the danger for the heroes. 

Unfortunately, the third act really slows down. There’s a lot of plot to resolve, none of it surprising at that point. So it’s about 20 minutes of a comedown from a nice high, but the first 90 minutes were good.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is obviously intended to start a franchise. It is the story of how John Kelly became John Clark after all. It ends on less of a Batman Begins or Casino Royale note and more of an “ohhhh, of course.” If they do another John Clark movie, hopefully, it’ll go out on a high.