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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tom Clancy's Without Remorse is a violent action thriller starring Michael B. Jordan and based on author Tom Clancy's popular novel. It's notable on the representation front, focusing on a Black military hero (Jordan) whose commanding officer is a Black woman (Jodie Turner-Smith) and whose interactions are always professional, platonic, and powerful. That said, Jordan's character, John Kelly, is also vengeful and coolly takes actions that would likely be impossible to survive in real life. The movie's violence and moments of peril are often intense: Expect military conflicts that involve lots of artillery (including assault rifles and explosives), as well as knife attacks and hand-to-hand physical combat. Characters are shot in the head at close range and set on fire, and there's an intense plane crash. Characters drink and kiss briefly, and there's some strong language ("bulls--t," "s--t").
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What's the story?
When a squad of Russian soldiers assassinates members of a former military special ops team while they're going about their civilian life, they mistakenly kill the pregnant wife of Sr. Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) instead of him. Teaming up with fellow Navy SEAL Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) and shady CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), Kelly seeks to get to the truth of who was behind the hits. Discovering a covert plot that will inevitably lead to war, Kelly must fight his enemies WITHOUT REMORSE.
Is it any good?
Phenomenal action sequences with enormous set pieces will take your breath away, but this book-based thriller suffers on the story front. Even viewers who tend to zone out during long action scenes are likely to stay completely absorbed by the all-encompassing cinematic maneuvers by director Stefano Sollima and director of photography Philippe Rousselot (whose previous work includes A River Runs Through It and Fantastic Beasts films). A scene in which a plane is hit by enemy fire and crashes into the ocean is gripping and IMAX-worthy.
Tom Clancy's source novel -- which was published in 1993 and set in 1970 -- is updated to modern day for the film. And that's not all that's changed; frankly, this adaptation by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples is so different from the book that it's baffling that the novelist's name still precedes the title. What does remain is brutality at the hero's hands. For the most part, recent films have stepped away from heroes being quick to kill -- we now see villains make their own fatal missteps. But John Kelly is out for revenge, plain and simple. In tracking down the person who murdered his pregnant wife, he discovers a vast government conspiracy. Speaking of which, the movie's big reveal feels like an aged concept, too. The DUN-DUN-DUN moment is something that might have shaken the earth in the 1990s, but today's audiences are more likely to think, "Tell me something I don't know."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why positive representation in the media is important. What examples did you notice in this film?
What's your reaction to the violence in Without Remorse? How does it compare to other thrillers -- is it more or less brutal? Do you think watching this kind of movie violence can desensitize viewers to brutality?
If you've read the source book, how does the film compare? Why do you think filmmakers decide to make changes to books for movie adaptations?
- On DVD or streaming: April 30, 2021
- Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell
- Director: Stefano Sollima
- Studio: Amazon Studios
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence
- Last updated: May 6, 2021
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