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No remorse for Michael Jordan

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

For this week's Movie Minutes, KUNR Entertainment Reviewer Robin Holabird looks at the latest Tom Clancy-based project, Without Remorse.

With credentials as a super supervillain in Black Panther, actor Michael B. Jordan comes off as a sort of superhero in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. Jordan’s chiseled torso and phenomenal speed seem beyond mere mortal status, and his character John Kelly might fit into the Marvel Universe if only he boasted an official superpower. Like many comic book heroes, Kelly seems cardboard at times, more powerful with punches than emotions.

The film diverges from Clancy’s biggest success, Jack Ryan of Hunt for Red October and other hits. Aside from creating a likable franchise hero, author Clancy gained his reputation by dealing with military science rooted in plausible scenarios. But, Without Remorse unintentionally diverges from that template.

Some fights seem so overwhelming, I figured hero Kelly simply experienced a nightmare and would wake up soon. But he never did—the plausibility line got crossed and the story sped ahead. Still, outrageousness doesn’t necessarily kill an action project. Nor does another quality found in Without Remorse: predictability.

The film features a standard setup, the kind where you look at someone and know they won’t survive long. Sometimes I like it when I foresee plot action, fooling myself into admiring my clever insight. But there’s no pride in figuring out the plot of Without Remorse. Most kids could accurately predict such a straightforward story.

Similarly, Kelly shows no vulnerability, so his heroic success feels preordained. Yet Without Remorse proves watchable and mindlessly harmless, which may give it a second life as the start of a franchise. If screenwriters give the character Kelly more range, Jordan has the skill and charm to make him a hero worth watching again.

The project, filmed with all the trappings of a major motion picture, streams on Amazon. Amazon also offers the chance to watch other Clancy projects including the superior Jack Ryan series starring John Krasinski.

Robin Holabird is KUNR's entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office. You can hear all of her reviews here.

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