Amazon Watch Party: Not Entirely Without Remorse
Written by: Shania Kuo
Without Remorse released on Amazon on Friday, April 30th. To celebrate the occasion, the EGD Collective hosted a watch party on the Discord server (which you can join here!). Sponsored by Amazon, the EGD Collective gave out twelve $25 Amazon gift cards via raffle to attendees.
While the watch party was a playful, collective atmosphere, the movie itself left much to be desired. Tom Clancy is known for his politically entwined novels, the villains always being some foreign threat against America. In line with the novel, political games underscore every action made in the film. However, given that the book is over 600 pages long, some things inevitably had to get cut, leading some parts of the story to feel underdeveloped. The movie starts with John Kelly (played by Michael B. Jordan) and his time as a Navy SEAL in Aleppo with some admittedly pretty lackluster gunfight scenes. After Kelly’s retirement, a Russian hitman kills Kelly’s pregnant wife, Pam (played by Lauren London), sending Kelly on the path of revenge. While this was a relatively boring plot point, it follows Clancy’s original novel, which was published in 1993, and it leads to some questionable revelations. One such revelation is that the death of Kelly’s wife and unborn child and the expedition into Russia was an operation launched by the U.S. government to instigate another Cold War and bring the American economy up.
While EGD viewers were far from impressed with the lacking action scenes and the plot (the ending and secret scene left a particularly high amount of salt in the chat), there were some moments that left an impression. For one, Kelly’s character was exceptionally intelligent. He carried out a murder plan as though it was all routine (his background as a SEAL could point to it, but his clinical procedure was terrifyingly impressive), even if authorities arrested him after killing the Russian diplomat, and Jordan’s portrayal of Kelly’s grief over his family’s deaths in their home was particularly painful.
One other notable decision was to imbue elements of systemic racism into the conversation, noting Michael B. Jordan’s race and how Kelly’s character would interact with institutions as a black man. Once Kelly kills the Russian diplomat, authorities arrest him and bring him to jail. While Kelly had a one-man-army moment (which again he had a brilliant idea to use water, but ultimately unrealistic), he’s brought in to tell government officials what he discovered. Kelly volunteers to go on the mission to Russia, claiming that no one in America would want him anymore since they only see him as a felon. It’s a haunting scene, especially for Americans given the current social unrest. While Kelly doesn’t emphasize his race, the implication is heavy, and I was surprised to see it since directors rarely address race in films in fear of turning away their audiences. While the director unfortunately reduced this to a subplot, it is pointing in the right direction considering the original novel did not have a Black protagonist and Kelly not experiencing or being aware of how his race interacts with the political institution would be especially egregious.
However, the mission in Russia itself felt like a drag. After a Russian aircraft shot down the U.S. plane, Kelly and his team rode on, the action dragged on. The team knew at that point the government sent them with no intention of them returning, but they pressed on. In a small hotel, there is an extremely long and drawn-out gunfight between Russian snipers after the American spy, Rykov, blows himself up. Kelly sacrificed himself for his team to escape, but he has plot armor and lived despite all odds being against him.
Upon returning, Kelly hunted down Secretary of Defense, Thomas Clay, and forces him to admit trying to instigate war between Russia and the U.S. to unite the people against a common enemy and boost the economy. Kelly takes the car into the river, letting it sink, and Clay dies. Of course, Kelly once again used his plot armor and somehow survived despite sinking to the bottom of the river (EGD was not impressed).
Ultimately, poor pacing and lackluster plot undermined the nuances this film had and could have portrayed. The illogical ending left sour tastes in everyone’s mouth, ruining any closure we could have gotten after a long two hours. Regardless, EGD viewers were content to have at least each other while watching through the movie, and some even got some gift cards to go with it!
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