This story's hero John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) is an ex-NAVY SEAL who gets forced back into action once a team of heavily armed/trained men murder his pregnant wife (Lauren London) in their home. After going on a solo vengeance-driven reconnaissance mission that lands him in hot water with the law, Kelly soon finds himself embroiled in a vague international conspiracy involving Russian nationals, potential corruption within the highest levels of the American government agencies and the true intent of a mission in Aleppo, Syria he ran shortly before his retirement from the military. Increasingly desperate and facing prison time, he has to enlist the help of a former squadmate (Jodie Turner-Smith) and CIA contact (Jamie Bell) to free him from jail so he can get to the bottom of who killed his wife and why these shadowy figures wanted him dead.
Doesn't that righteous solider forced to avenge the death of the one person that provided him with a lifeline to get out of his life of violence by cracking a mystery and going on killing sprees that span multiple continents storyline just ooze Cold War-era action movie? Probably the only way Without Remorse could've been more authentic to the True Lies/Under Siege/Clear and Present Danger-era is if the Russian villains broke out the most god awful cartoon stereotype accents they could conjure up and threatened to launch a nuke on American soil.
So does this classic playbook still work? To a degree, yes. Jordan plays the hardass hero with nothing to lose archetype very well and director Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) brings some real intensity to the string of shootouts/covert missions/rigorous questioning that keep the thin, idiotic plot moving. No one is going to mistake Without Remorse for a particularly impressive piece of genre filmmaking or anything more than a minor footnote in Jordan's already accomplished career, but it's gritty and effective throwback entertainment that fits in well with the other Clancy adaptations that have made it to the screen over the past 30 years.