Review By Frances Winston
Directed by: Stefano Sollima – Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Luke Mitchell, Jack Kesy, Brett Gelman, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce
Available to stream on Amazon Prime from April 30th
I was about half an hour into watching this movie, when it struck me that it felt very dated. Thinking that perhaps it was an older movie that was only hitting streaming now, I looked it up to double-check. And while it is indeed a brand new film, the Tom Clancy source material was written in 1993, and the movie has been in development hell pretty much ever since (with a big screen offering originally slated for a 1995 release) which certainly explained a lot.
Yes, it boasts a stellar cast. But the plot, which sees Michael B Jordan’s former Navy SEAL, John Kelly, seek revenge after his wife and unborn child are murdered by a team of Russian assassins, feels like it is straight out of the cold war era. The serious lack of female characters heightens this sense, and although Turner-Smith is given more to do than just look pretty, her character feels rather tokenistic in what is essentially a testosterone fest.
While there is a market for this kind of generic and predictable retaliation flick, and Jordan does a fine job in the lead, the problem is that this gets bogged down in clunky dialogue, exposition, and predictable plot twists. Without giving spoilers, I can guarantee you will know the ultimate bad guy as soon as he comes on screen. And even in the middle of a shootout, the characters analyse the back-story, to ensure the audience knows what’s going on.
The action scenes are impressive. They are extremely well-choreographed, and while they may not quite reach thrilling status, they should be engaging enough for most people. But that is really all that holds this together.
The thing that I found most astonishing was that, although this was made for, and intended to have, a cinematic release, it all felt very ‘made for TV’. While it was entertaining enough watching it at home, it didn’t feel like it would gain anything from the cinema experience. This may be because filmmakers are ultimately thinking ahead, to when their films eventually land on streaming sites in the future, but you can still make your movies big and loud, rather than restrained like this felt at times.
This is a pretty easy and harmless watch. It works hard to tick all the commercial thriller boxes, without trying anything new. If you just want a popcorn action-movie, without much depth, that you don’t have to think about too much, then this is perfect.
It is mindless entertainment, but Jordan elevates it to watchable.