The Michael B Jordan Action Thriller 'Without Remorse' Is a Slick

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An old Tom Clancy character gets a tense, violent update for Amazon Prime. Nadja Klier/Paramount PicturesMichael B. Jordan knows how to throw a punch. After playing the nimble boxer Adonis Creed, son of former champ Apollo Creed, in both Creed and Creed II, with the Jordan-directed Creed III on the way, the actor has learned how to credibly fill the screen as a broad-shouldered, take-no-shit warrior. During a key prison-set scene in Without Remorse, Anazon Prime Video's tense and brutal revenge thriller based on a Tom Clancy novel from the early '90s, Jordan takes off his shirt, wraps his hand with a towel, turns on a faucet so water spills on the concrete floor, and then pummels a series of armed guards sent to restrain him. "Close the door or I'll start snapping necks," he bellows. Plenty of necks, arms, and spines get snapped in Without Remorse, a brooding military shoot-em-up that follows Jordan's Navy SEAL John Kelly as he goes on the warpath to avenge the death of his pregnant wife, Pam (Lauren London), following an operation in Syria that leads to Russian assassins sneaking into Kelly's home in the middle of the night. With nothing left to lose, Kelly sets out to figure out who was responsible, pissing off Washington bureaucrats, military brass, and a sniveling CIA agent played by Jamie Bell. In one of the movie's best scenes, Jordan lights a car on fire and then climbs in the backseat to interrogate a terrified bad guy. That's what lands him in prison, where he administers the aforementioned water-on-the-floor beat-down. It's that type of movie: The film opens with a man getting yanked into the water and killed, establishing a "and we're off!" tone of perpetually escalating violence. Nadja Klier/Paramount PicturesThis is all familiar material, a rehash of bombastic '80s action movie tropes and tangled spy conspiracy twists, but it's given a glowering sense of menace by director Stefano Sollima, who co-created Amazon's similarly unnerving drug trade drama ZeroZeroZero and last directed 2018's Sicario: Day of the Soldado. (He's also the son of Italian director Sergio Sollima.) Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan also has a writing credit here—shared with writer Will Stapes—and the movie bears the mark of his obsession with questions of duty and personal responsibility. You might find the tone overly serious, but there's an admirable spartan quality to the movie's macho melodrama that's aided by striking compositions and a rumbling score courtesy of Icelandic musician Jónsi of the essential post-rock group Sigur Rós. With his ability to sell the anguish and the ass-kicking, Jordan ends up being a strong fit for Clancy's Rambo-like Kelly, a true believer often disgusted by the callousness and the cynicism of his superiors. (Here's where it gets a little wonky: Kelly eventually takes on the name John Clark, and Clark was previously played by Willem Dafoe in 1994's Clear and Present Danger and by Liev Schreiber in 2002's The Sum of All Fears.

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