Review: Michael B. Jordan on autopilot in violent 'Without Remorse'

The young star plays a Navy Seal hunting down his wife's killers in rote action vehicle

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

His wife was killed. Now this Navy Seal is out for revenge — dun dun dun — "Without Remorse." 

If it sounds like a Steven Seagal title it plays like one, too. Michael B. Jordan is in robotic action hero mode in this generic Tom Clancy thriller, playing a musclebound military man avenging the murder of his wife against a crew of Russian baddies, corrupt government officials and anyone else who stands in his way. He plays by such a twisted set of rules it's hard to figure out what reality he exists in, or what sort of pretzel logic the audience is expected to believe in and follow.   

Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan in "Without Remorse."

Jordan is John Clark, who at the top of the film is on a mission in Syria that goes bad. CIA officer Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) is so smarmy and obviously the bad guy in the situation that you know he can't possibly be the bad guy, especially when professional bad guy Guy Pearce shows up as Secretary of Defense and starts not playing the bad guy. It's all very spy movie obvious. 

Anyhow, three months after that mission, assassins are taking out Clark's team members one by one, and they come after him and his pregnant wife. They kill her and he gets away with a couple of gunshot wounds, which super soldier Clark is able to recover from after a few laps in the pool. Then he goes on his own revenge spree which is weirdly sort of government sanctioned; when he gets locked up for vigilante justice it's not long before his mission becomes official state business.  

"Without Remorse" is based on Tom Clancy's 1993 novel and is directed with brute force efficiency by "Sicario 2" helmer Stefano Sollima. The action scenes crackle and the violence is delivered with unblinking savagery, while also reducing Jordan to a one-note instrument of barbarity. He's a bright, nuanced, charismatic young actor stuck in stiff "Rambo" mode. He's better than "Without Remorse," which is also without subtlety and without much reason for being. 

'Without Remorse'

GRADE: C

Rated R: for violence

Running time: 109 minutes

On Amazon Prime Video

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama