Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Michael B. Jordan action thriller “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” (Amazon Prime Video), the Liam Neeson not-so-action-packed film “The Marksman” (VOD) and the weird and wild Nicolas Cage flick “Willy’s Wonderland” (VOD).
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Michael B. Jordan action thriller “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” (Amazon Prime Video), the Liam Neeson not-so-action-packed film “The Marksman” (VOD), the charming comedy “Golden Arm” (VOD/Digital) and the weird and wild Nicolas Cage flick “Willy’s Wonderland” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Michael B. Jordan action thriller “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” (Amazon Prime Video), the Liam Neeson not-so-action-packed film “The Marksman” (VOD), the charming comedy “Golden Arm” (VOD/Digital) and the weird and wild Nicolas Cage flick “Willy’s Wonderland” (VOD).
If you took all the gun play out of “Without Remorse,” the new Michael B. Jordan thriller on Amazon Prime Video, the movie would only be about 10 minutes long. The Tom Clancy adaptation is a bullet ballet that plays like a throwback to 80s matinee action movies.
When we first meet John Clark (Jordan) he’s leading an elite team of US Navy SEALs on a dangerous top-secret mission in Syria to liberate a CIA operative taken hostage by ex-Russian military forces.
Cut to three months later. Back in the United States, the quiet life Clark and his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London) have created for themselves is shattered by Russian assassins who invade their home. Looking for revenge, the Russian hit team kill Pam before Clark is able to off three of the four hitmen. The fourth gunman fires back, leaving Clark for dead, riddled with bullets.
As Clark recuperates in hospital, his colleagues, SEAL Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) and Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce), determine how to best respond to a Russian attack on U.S. soil.
Not satisfied with the official way of doing things, Clark becomes a one-man army, seeking revenge and answers. He is the very definition of a man you don’t want to mess with. He’s a killing machine, especially when you take away the only thing he had to live for. He tracks down a Russian diplomat he thinks is responsible for the murder of his wife and coerces information out of him in a spectacular and completely illegal way. “They brought the war to my house,” he says. “The contract is broken. They’re going to play by my rules now.”
His act of retribution lands him in prison but he’s able to trade the sensitive information he garnered in his one-man mission for a second chance at revenge. This time with the cooperation of the CIA and military.
One secretive flight to Russia later, cue the carnage and conspiracy.
“Without Remorse” is an extremely violent movie with more bullets than brains.
Director Stefano Sollima stages intense action scenes and isn’t afraid to let the bodies fall where they may. Unfortunately, it’s in the handling of the other stuff, the intrigue, that the movie comes up short. In between bullet blasts a conspiracy slowly comes into focus, but it is never developed. Buried beneath an ever-increasing body count is the broader and more interesting picture of governmental tampering with world politics. Countries need outside enemies, it is suggested, or people will turn on their neighbors looking for someone to hate. It’s a timely message, a bit of debatable ideology, that could have been the underpinning for a rich subplot. Instead, “Without Remorse” is a standard issue shoot ‘em up.
Jordan brings charisma and physicality to the role, but is saddled with Steven Seagal-level dialogue. “Death follows me around,” he says in a line that could be from any number of direct-to-DVD action films from the last thirty years.
“Without Remorse” starts off with a bang—many of them in fact—but ends as a regression to cold war paranoia fuelled by bullets and brawn.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD to watch this weekend including spy thriller “Jack Ryan” on Amazon Prime Video and the hilarious talk show “Desus & Mero” on Showtime.
SYNOPSIS: Ex-Marine Jack Ryan is back on screen after a twelve-year break, but this time he looks like Captain Kirk. As played by Chris Pine (taking over from Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) CIA field agent Ryan discovers evidence of an upcoming terrorist attack. Leaving his suspicious girlfriend (Kiera Knightley) behind, he is sent to Moscow to continue the investigation by Intelligence boss Agent Harper (Kevin Costner). Dodging bullets and bad guys, he encounters Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) an evil businessman with a plot to destabilize the global economy.
Richard: 2 Stars
Steve: 2 Stars
Richard: Steve, Shadow Recruit is nothing fancy… and it’s also nothing Clancy. As the first of the Ryan movies not based on a Tom Clancy novel it feels quite generic. There is the usual intrigue and a couple of tense scenes but what the movie doesn’t have is the ear for dialogue of the other Ryan films. When you have a senior CIA agent muttering the line, “This is geopolitics, not couple’s therapy,” it’s hard to know whether this is a satire of spy films or just badly written.
Steve: It certainly wasn’t inspired writing, that’s for sure. I get the feeling the genesis of this film came straight from a money-angling producer who somehow decided to attempt reviving a 12 year old movie character like Jack Ryan would be better business sense than creative endeavor. The problem is, even if you look at the previous incarnations of the CIA operative – he’s pretty indistinct. He’s no James Bond. And vanilla Chris Pine doesn’t add much to that blandness.
RC: True, but I really think that this is a case of a director with no affinity for the material. It’s almost as if the movie was pieced together by people who had seen a lot of spy movies, but didn’t really understand them. Add to that action scenes so frenetically edited it’s often hard to see through the flashes of light on the screen to see who is punching who. A little clarity in those sequences would have gone a long way to make up for the ridiculous dialogue and under developed characters.
SG: Absolutely. I had a hard time making sense of the action sequences since they were filmed with shaky handheld cameras and in what seemed to be extreme close-up. Perhaps filmmaker Kenneth Branagh was focusing less on direction and more on playing the Russian antagonist in the film, which he does effectively enough in spite of the formulaic dialogue. Keira Knightly too, in the pretty unremarkable role of Ryan’s unwitting operative wife is fine – although I’m not sure what her attraction to the part was.
RC: Knightley was fine, but I thought Branagh played Cherevin with all the nuance of a Bond villain. He’s ruthless, flamboyantly accented and super smart. Smart enough to bring down the global economy but not smart enough, apparently, to see through Chris Pine’s terrible drunk act near the climax of the film.
Steve: True enough. And that probably exemplifies this film’s biggest flaw. As much as the action is set at the pace of an over-caffeinated ferret, this thriller is pretty much boilerplate material with any subtle intricacies simplified for the sake of the neatly-capped plot. In the end, it’s a pretty plain spy flick that’s easy to unravel.
In your mind’s eye when you picture ex-Marine turned CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who do you see?
Is he a dark-haired, suave six-foot movie star with a hot temper and a racy Twitter account? Or maybe a world-weary fellow with a scar on his chin and a resemblance to Indiana Jones? Or how about the Red Sox fan formerly known as Bennifer?
Created by writer Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan is the lead character in nine novels and the star of five films. This weekend we’ll see him uncover a Russian plot to destroy the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
Chris Pine, best known as Captain Kirk in the recently rebooted Star Trek series, is the newest member of the Ryanverse, and hopes to bring something new to the character.
“I can’t be Alec Baldwin,” he told Empire. “I can’t be Harrison Ford. I can only really do my own thing and stay true to the pillars of this character.”
Baldwin originated Ryan on screen in the 1990 high-tech thriller The Hunt for Red October.
The movie could have been the beginning of a James Bond-esque franchise for Baldwin, but he left the series after just one outing despite the film being one of the top grossing movies of the year. In a Huffington Post blog he says he was pushed aside for another actor “with much greater strength at the box office.”
Baldwin doesn’t name names, but Harrison Ford soon signed on, playing Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.
Author Clancy, who passed away in 2013, was not a fan of the Ford years. He thought the two movies dumbed down his original stories and thought Ford was too old to play the role. “Giving your book to Hollywood is like turning your daughter over to a pimp,” he said.
Next up was Ben Affleck, who took over in the 2002 prequel The Sum of All Fears.
“The day I received the offer to play Jack Ryan,” said Affleck, “I was filming a Pearl Harbor scene with Alec Baldwin. He was very sweet and said I should do it.”
The part’s originator has become the go-to guy with actors who sign up to play Ryan. When he was offered the part, Pine was shooting Guardians of the Galaxy with Baldwin. “He urged me to hold onto it,” said Pine, “and to attack it.”