Of course, Clay’s decision infuriates Kelly, sending him on his mission of vengeance and arming him with several questions and severe paranoia. Is the constantly sneering Ritter part of this cover up/conspiracy? And where did that fourth assassin disappear to without a trace? Based on a tip from Greer, Kelly tracks a lead to Dulles Airport. The ensuing violence is so over-the-top ridiculous (gasoline fires, t-boned vehicles, torture by bullet) that you’re astonished Kelly doesn’t blow the hell up along with his quarry. Instead, he’s sent to prison where he’s surrounded by vindictive Russians and compelled to show us an upper body that would shame Adonis. Michael B. Jordan preparing to fight a slew of baddies while posing shirtless is the only joy you’ll receive from “Without Remorse.”
Making Kelly report to a tough female superior is an intriguing concept for such an otherwise by-the-numbers actioner. The film doesn’t make a big deal out of that, but it does make very clunky commentary about having two Black leads in a military movie. “We fought for a country that didn’t love us back,” is one line of dialogue that plays like a pander to White audience members who need convincing that patriotism can exist in a Black package. This truth deserves more than lip service dialogue. Even worse, when the villain tells Kelly that Americans are turning against one another solely because they don’t have a foreign enemy to hate, it’s a downright idiotic excuse to sell to a person of color. Racism and partisan hatred exist because Americans are bored? Something like that.
After all this incoherent nonsense climaxes with faked deaths and justice meted out in the name of a woman we barely met, let alone got to know, “Without Remorse” has the nerve to end with an equally incoherent, Nick Fury-style mid-credits sequence that sets up a sequel I can’t imagine viewers giving a damn about wanting to see. I was so happy the film was over that I almost turned the screener off before this scene appeared, so consider this your warning that it’s there. Besides a well-done underwater sequence shot by Philippe Rousselot, there’s very little to recommend this film. But if you really need to see Michael B. Jordan battling Russians, just watch “Creed II.”
On Amazon Prime on Friday, April 30th.