Tom Clancy novels have previously been the subject of film adaptations which have failed to come to fruition. Not so for Without Remorse, as ‘Creed’ actor Michael B. Jordan puts on his producer hat and brings the upcoming action-packed feature to premiere globally on Amazon Prime Video on April 30th.
This is the explosive origin story of action hero John Clark – one of the most popular characters in Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe. The movie delves into the action when a squad of Russian soldiers kill Clark’s family in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op, and Sr. Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) pursues the assassins at all costs. Joining forces with a fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and a shadowy CIA agent (Jamie Bell), Kelly’s mission unwittingly exposes a covert plot that threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war. Torn between personal honour and loyalty to his country, Kelly must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the powerful figures behind the conspiracy.
Directed by ‘Gomorrah’ and ‘Sicario 2: Soldado’ filmmaker Stefano Sollima, the volatile and richly dark tones of Sollima’s vision has been taken from his time and experience as a war zone camera operator. An experience he conveyed in a recent press conference with cast and crew brings a responsibility to tell the story based on reality.
“When you work in a war zone area you have the responsibility to report the reality you are living in a truthful and respectful way. Most of all, I think that you cannot dirty the reality with your own point of view, you don’t want to judge what you are experiencing, this is up to the audience that is going to judge on their own. This is the period of objective reporting, I feel, in the movie, it translates in the same way. I need to inform, to study a lot, to know everything about the war that I am going to portray. When I put together, work on a character, I don’t want to judge him, so I try to leave this pleasure to the audience. So it’s a way to be close to the story and to your character but in the same time to be respectfully a step ahead”.
With Jordan not only the star of the film but a producer behind the scenes there was a lot of learning from his more experienced producers on set on bringing to life an action movie of this magnitude. In his own words, he was happy to be a sponge learning the details of life as a producer.
“Just being involved from the absolute beginning to the end I think it was very hands-on in a way of how to build out stunts, what the process would be and having experienced producers like Akiva [Goldsman] and other people who have been through the process before that worked on high stakes action movies and really following their lead on how to package together, OK we’re going to do this intense aeroplane crash, working with the visual effects supervisor to work out that sequence and how exactly we are going to practically shoot it. Are we going to use the crane on this shot? We need water tanks and this and that, it was just going through the process of building that out, it was a learning curve for myself. I walk away from this movie with more knowledge and experience of how to put those sequences, movies together. I know when to shut up and listen and learn, I was a sponge on this one, I think we walked away with something we can be really happy about”.
Having made her starring breakthrough opposite Daniel Kaluuya in Queen & Slim, Jodie Turner-Smith stars alongside Jordan as his SEAL colleague Karen Greer. Having shot the film while pregnant, Turner-Smith is the epitome of what women can achieve. It is a feat that wasn’t as easy as she makes it look in the finished product.
“First of all, I was pregnant at the time that added levels of intensity to it that I didn’t even myself anticipate. I’m used to feeling OK I’m a strong person, I’m an athletic person, I can push my body to the limits to do this and that and to jump into this, I have a little bit of background in this genre being that I started on a television show on TNT called the Last Ship, that was my first big role on television and that was all about running around after the bad guys, getting exploded, so I thought, this was something I was certainly ready to throw my body into, but to add that really unique, nobody tells you what your body is going through. It’s funny, I have trained for many things in my life, but what was required of my physically while carrying the baby during this film was unlike anything that I have ever experienced. In terms of what was it like, it was intense, obviously, I worked with a trainer as well. Michael was so gracious to let me borrow his trainer sometimes”.
Where there is action movie comes with it a responsibility of training for the actors to make the story as authentic as it can be. In particular, Jordan has an uncanny knack of being able to hold his breath underwater for a long period of time and look totally at ease and relaxed while doing it.
“It’s one of those things where your breath and breathing is definitely a trained thing, it’s an exercise. If you stop training and you stop exercising that muscle, you can lose it. Underwater training is something we spent a lot of time in; we knew we had these sequences earlier in the script. Stefano would be like, ‘Mike, you know you’ve got to do all these right?’ I was like yeah yeah course, easy easy, no problem. So we hooked up with some military divers and spent time in the tanks and put us under stressful situations where we would have to problem solve, work through malfunctions, gear failure work through military re-breathers. I don’t know how many pounds they would weigh but they were so heavy. You would have a flotation bag which you would have to manipulate the pressure of so you could be buoyant enough to stay underwater but not buoyant enough you would float to the top. I could hold my breath during filming for about 3 minutes or so, something like that” said Jordan.
With most movies, there are deeper themes that steer films protagonists into action, Jordan’s Clark has major distrust in the Government and will go to any lengths he needs to for revenge. Colman Domingo was sure these themes would resonate with audiences across the globe.
“It sounds like things we are wrestling with now, right? What I love about the film was at the centre of Michael’s character you see he’s just a man who is trying to do good in the world. Who believes in country, who believes in family, who has a spiritual core and then you like at what happens when all that is taken away from this person and what they have to do. Sometimes, I feel that’s these are the arguments we all have, What happens when you can’t play the grace card anymore, that’s been taken away from you, you’re like what do I do to try and right the wrongs in society? What access do I have, what agency do I have? What am I up against? I think it’s just a great moral conundrum we have in the centre of the film. I think that Michael’s character and the way he portrays it so beautifully is what he is in the midst of, so you get behind him”.
Thanks to the pandemic that has so rudely disrupted the movie schedule over the past year; the industry has finally had to embrace streaming platforms in order to get movies to the masses that would have previously had their main initial home on the big screen movie theatres. Thanks to Amazon Prime, ‘Without Remorse’ has found its way to being distributed. Jordan feels lucky to have the opportunity, an opportunity he hopes that will give those who wouldn’t go out of their way to see it at the cinema to watch it in the comfort of their own homes.
“I think it’s giving access to films that quite possible, they wouldn’t have an opportunity to go and see. Certain films are obviously are intended to be shot and played in a movie theatre, we are in an evolving time where the pandemic this last year helped everything with the shift. We were victims of that as well in the sense of trying to figure out where we were going to pivot how we would get our movie out to the masses so everyone had the opportunity to watch and see it. Luckily enough we were able to land on a place like Amazon to house this film. I think it’s an evolution; it’s going to be a healthy balance between the two. There is something to be able to sit at home and being able to have instant access to the movies you want to see, but then I think there is something about going to the theatre and having that movie theatre experience as well, so it’s going to be a nice healthy balance in the future”.
Without Remorse hits Amazon Prime Video on April 30th.