For the millions that must have been spent on sets, machine guns, blank rounds of ammunition, pyrotechnics and everything else that’s needed to blow things up real good, Stefano Sollima’s “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” is a surprisingly boring affair.
Bloated and dull, there’s not an original idea to be found in this tribute to purposeless filmmaking.
An obvious exercise in franchise building, this failure spins its wheels over the course of 120 minutes, retreading one hackneyed plot point after another.
The film bludgeons the viewer rather than entertaining them with a barrage of explosions and gunfights, which do little to move the story along, serving only as a means of distracting us from its threadbare plot.
Michael B. Jordan stars as John Kelly, a Navy SEAL who finds himself on a covert operation in Aleppo, Syria.
He and his crew, along with shady CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), are sent in to rescue a spy being held by Syrian rebels, a mission they accomplish with extreme prejudice.
Come to find out, it was actually the Russians holding one of Ritter’s colleagues, something Kelly and his cohorts are told after the fact.
Very little thought is given to all of this, that is until three months later, when members of the unit, along with Kelly, are targeted by Russian agents who have been sent to the United States to kill them and their families.
They are mostly successful, though Kelly does escape. His pregnant wife does not.
Of course, this sends him down the vengeance trail as he sets out to hunt down the perpetrators with the help of his former superior officer, Captain Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), a concerned government official, Secretary Clay (Guy Pearce) and a ragtag group of colleagues who, no surprise, generate a great deal of mayhem in their pursuit of the Russian bad guys who’ve ruined their lives.
This is an unusual poor effort from screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, who’s been much more successful updating tropes from Westerns and putting them in a modern context (“Hell or High Water,” “Yellowstone”).
This could just as well have been an oater, because at its core, this is nothing more than a revenge story, albeit one set on an international stage rather than the high plains.
But of course, setting is of little consequence if nothing new can be brought to the table in terms of story.
Double-crosses occur, enemies prove to be allies, and trustworthy patriots are revealed to be anything but, while scores are settled and boredom ensues as Sollima tries to distract us with prolonged battle scenes that add nothing to the story.
When lines of dialogue such as, “We need somebody like me, and there’s nobody like me!” are uttered, it’s hard not to chuckle at its hackneyed nature or the overt earnestness with which Jordan delivers it.
To be sure, he is a fine young actor and does everything he can to bring a sense of energy to his role and the film.
(Serving as one of the producers of this potential franchise, he has a lot on the line.)
However, it takes more than conviction and enthusiasm to rescue a tired, predictable script such as Jordan and his co-stars are required to bring to life here.
I strongly suspect any viewer who gets sucked into this one will feel nothing but remorse over the time they’ve wasted.