Tom Clancy's novels have always translated well to film, most notably back in the 90s when Jack Ryan was a character of his brought to life on screen once by Alec Baldwin and then a couple of times by Harrison Ford, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger being the two films I was most familiar with. They were smart action thrillers that were as much about the politics as they were the action, enabling them to feel much more than basic 90s action cannon fodder. Without Remorse is the latest Clancy novel to be adapted for the big screen and this time around it isn't Jack Ryan as the focal point.

When a squad of Russian soldiers kills his family in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op, Sr. Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) pursues the assassins at all costs. Joining forces with a fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and a shadowy CIA agent (Jamie Bell), Kelly's mission unwittingly exposes a covert plot that threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war. Torn between personal honor and loyalty to his country, Kelly must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the powerful figures behind the conspiracy.

Without Remorse is an unforgiving action thriller where it isn't afraid to get its hands dirty when it comes to both the action and themes running through the film, something the 90s Tom Clancy adaptations were able to juggle rather impressively. It's violent and only ramps up in brutality as John Kelly tries to find the men responsible for the loss he has suffered, opening with a slick stealth sequence before a much more intense fight within the small boundaries of a prison cell that will certainly make you wince. The action is stylised to the point where it becomes some of the best put to a Clancy adaptation, Matthew Newman's editing allowing the action to breathe.

The more political side of it all is where the film tends to slow right down however, it's a necessary course of action to ensure this doesn't just become a blink-and-you-miss-it action thriller where nothing matters to anyone. Taylor Sheridan, who has worked on some of the better thrillers in recent memory with Sicario and Wind River, was brought on board to rewrite the screenplay and the end result is a slick thriller, fork-like tongues of political figures there for all to see and revenge truly consuming Kelly the further he goes on his personal mission.

Fully committed to the role of John Kelly, Michael B. Jordan delivers an impressive performance that demands the drive to reach a goal and particular physicality that he's certainly used to having put in the hard work on the Creed films. Jordan is one of the most charismatic young actors working today and he really does a great job in carrying a lot of the heavy work on his shoulders. Jodie Turner-Smith continues an impressive rise to stardom with a conflicted performance as Kelly's commanding officer, part wanting to help him out but part knowing she has to serve her country, and it's fun trying to work out who exactly isn't onside with Kelly with Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce both doing their best suspicious acting throughout.

Without Remorse very much works as an action thriller with a political edge to it that hits hard to become another impressive adaptation of Tom Clancy's written work. Teasing us with a final scene straight out of the MCU handbook of post credits stings, fans of a particular game might get a little excited about a future franchise on the cards. With Michael B. Jordan involved, here's hoping they can keep up the standard set here.

Verdict: ★★★★ 


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