Director: Stefano Sollima
Story By: Tom Clancy
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell, Guy Pearce, Jacob Scipio, and Lauren London
* * *
To be transparent and get this out the way now, I wasn’t at all interested in this film from jump. I knew from the trailer months ago that it wasn’t going to be good for a couple of reasons. BUT I needed to round out my April films, and since everyone one else in my film reviewing community were watching it, I figured I might as well do the same.
So…here I am… WITH Remorse… LOL
* * *
Below are my grades for key components in #WithoutRemorse that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development.
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
* * *
Plot & Story: B
Character Arc/Development: F
General Entertainment Factor: Don’t Watch (my second time doing this)
Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Don’t Watch (my second time doing this)
* * *
1. I will go ahead and get 1 out of 3 positive things from this film out the way—The theme/messaging. I found that the film did a pretty good job making sure that the ideas of justice with revenge came through via John Kelly’s character. It was clear he had motive from jump, and he moved throughout the story to make sure that the audience walked away knowing that justice can be served in [t]his vindictive way. Even the final scene with “the organization” summed it all up. 👍🏾
2. You know, I love me some Michael B Jordan… I do. But this role wasn’t quite for him…and it was the voice. I couldn’t really believe him as this ruthless Navy Seal. There were only 2 moments where Michael B Jordan’s voice felt like the John Kelly I wanted to hear (the prison scenes, and that “ride to the farmhouse…”). I also liked the casualness of his voice when John Kelly was speaking with his wife and the family (which is such a sweet voice). There were just too many moments where MBJ made the characterization look forced, especially amongst these other men. 🥴
3. Chile, what was that fight scene with Greer? All that damn tumble weeding. And she had the nerve to get up as if she did something. 😩🤦🏾♂️🤣
4. The second positive thing about the film, well, was of course seeing Michael B Jordan’s ol’ beautiful ass. 😍😍
5. Actually, another positive thing/something I enjoyed was seeing the plane crash scene. Not sure why, but I found it interestingly shot. 👍🏾
6. However, to piggyback off of point #5, that line asking “Is everybody okay?” … … … they should’ve just called off names to check because CLEARLY, #ThePilot… 🤦🏾♂️
7. When it comes to the plot and story, I am really conflicted. Personally, I don’t find the story to be good at all, and maybe it has more to do with the edited product. However, when looking at the written description of this story—a Navy SEAL seeking justice for his murdered wife—well, the film actually does just that. The only issue I have is that the exposition doesn’t really give me enough background with John Kelly and his family to get me more invested in his revenge. Nor does the story even provide a gradual progression of what a character like John Kelly (based on Michael B Jordan’s delivery/execution of him) might do to “seek justice” for his wife—which impacts and/or involves pacing and character arc—before actually doing what he does. So, it moves for the sake of the written description, but is pretty stagnant/stale when looking for a real story. 🥴👎🏾👍🏾🥴
8. Also, to add on to point #7, the story sort of got carried away with the America-Russia aspect of the plot (and I’ve said this in a different post about the ways we just seem to always include Russia in our action/war films…it’s time to let it go). 🤦🏾♂️
9. What was up with that “real names before we die” shyt? Must be some inside, real Navy Seal joke…but as an educator, they only did what we do—call each other by last names when in professional/work settings… … I don’t know, it felt unnecessary. 🤦🏾♂️
10. Phew… Hatchet! Yeeeessss! So maybe this is another positive. 😍😍
11. But my REAL 3rd positive was seeing 2 Black actors at the head of this film. (Yesss, shout out to Jodie Turner-Smith). 🙌🏾
12. When he was engaged in that rooftop shoot out, I was like—Is this Set It Off and Cleo? 🤷🏾♂️🤣
13. Pacing is very interesting… it works well for the basic movement of the plot. It gets our main character up and moving for his justice. BUT it moves too fast for the character arc/development, and even for providing us a real story. And to be honest, there weren’t enough “Blockbuster Action Explosives/Imagery” to have this fast ass plot pacing. It just didn’t work for me. 🥴
14. What the HELL was up with that “pawn-king” shyt? As Regina George told Gretchen—“stop trying to make Fetch happen.” I’m sure it was supposed to be so much deeper than it gave off…and if they couldn’t truly showcase that via editing, it shoulda be scratched. 🤦🏾♂️
15. Okay… another positive was the dream sequence. It brought a nice, soft touch to the overall feel of the film. Additionally, it was the only good thing to help give some sense of story to John Kelly’s character. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
16. Speaking of John Kelly’s character… this was really bad for a few reasons—his voice, the poor exposition, and Michael B Jordan’s delivery. If there ever was a character to embody going from 0-100 real quick, it would be John Kelly, and it didn’t work. Firstly, the exposition doesn’t showcase Kelly as someone who is this very macho, impulsive, take charge, and ruthless character. He seems to be someone who follows directions, is level headed, and works well with a team. So to see his character suddenly become the John Kelly we end up watching felt strange/inauthentic.
Then the voice…even his first line of anger fell flat for me because MBJ has this very soft, kind tone to his voice. All I was hearing was Adonis Creed in the middle of a military mission—that doesn’t go together for me. And this was the same in every action scene, which made sense with the way I FIRST noticed John Kelly—as this level headed member of this Navy SEAL team who follows directions. The voice MBJ put on in the prison scene was the voice he should’ve carried throughout the entire movie, which leads me to his delivery—I don’t think Michael B Jordan really “took on/became” John Kelly…instead, his delivery gave the equivalent of someone retelling/recapping an event to a group of people while attempting to do different expressions and inflections. 😔😔👎🏾👎🏾
17. Now… that secretary did not use the bathroom. 🤣. Everything about that scene looked like they said “action” and he just flushed and walked to the sinks. 🤦🏾♂️🤣
18. Remember that scene from Anchorman with Steve Carrell—“Why is everybody yelling!?” That’s what I felt like with this film at times. 👀😩🤷🏾♂️🤣
19. They really tried too hard to not make the obvious, obvious… 🤦🏾♂️
* * *
Overall, #WithoutRemorse missed the mark for me. There was a moment around the 2nd act of this film where I said to myself, “You know what would have probably pushed this film to be better—if Greer was the lead.” I think there could’ve been so much more given to Greer’s character to truly provide that arc/development due to her being a Black women who also holds such a high position in the Navy.
Ultimately this film just gave guys being able to have fun with guns, living out fantasies of the GI Joe games they played as a kid. This would’ve been better off as a Netlix series to allow episodes to flush out the story better.