Balancing the duties of loyalty to their country and career with their love for and commitment to their families can be a difficult process for elite Navy SEALs who wish to thrive in their careers and support their relatives. Michael B. Jordan‘s protagonist of Sr. Chief John Kelly is struggling with that challenge in the new action thriller, ‘Without Remorse,’ which is launching globally today on Prime Video. John is determined to thwart a foreign threat to the U.S. while he also sets out to avenge the murders of his wife and their unborn child in the adventure film.
‘Without Remorse’ was written by Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, who based the script on the 1993 thriller novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. The screen adaptation, which serves as a spin-off of the ‘Jack Ryan’ movie series, was directed by Stefano Sollima.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Akiva Goldsman, and Jordan, produced the film franchise’s latest installment, which serves as the origin story of the performer’s action hero. In addition to Jordan, ‘Without Remorse’ features an ensemble cast that includes Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, Colman Domingo and Guy Pearce.
‘Without Remorse’ follows John as he uncovers an international conspiracy while seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, Pam (London). During his search for answers, the elite Navy SEAL discovers that he and his family were targeted by a squad of Russian soldiers in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op. John becomes so driven to avenge his late wife and unborn child’s deaths that he pursues the assassins at all costs.
Along the way, John Joins forces with a fellow SEAL, Karen Greer (Turner-Smith), and a shadowy CIA agent, Robert Ritter (Bell). However, John’s mission unwittingly exposes a covert plot that threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war. Torn between personal honor and loyalty to his country, he must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the powerful figures behind the conspiracy.
Sollima, Jordan, Turner-Smith, London and Domingo generously took the time earlier this month to participate in a press conference over Zoom to talk about directing, producing and starring in ‘Without Remorse.’ Among other things, the filmmaker and performers discussed how the helmer’s experience working as a war zone camera operator helped bring the intense aspects of the story to the screen, which included the actors and actresses carrying out daring stuntwork. The performers also mentioned how they worked closely together to infuse their characters’ romantic and platonic love with a sense of realism, which helped drive the drama’s overall story.
During the press conference, Sollima noted that with ‘Without Remorse’ being a politically-charged action thriller, he relied on his experience working as a war zone camera operator to realistically bring the volatile and richly dark tones of the feature’s story to the screen. “When you work in a war zone area, you have the responsibility to report the reality you are living in a truthful and respectful way. Most of all, I think that you can’t dirty the reality with your own point of view, as you don’t want to judge what you are experiencing; this is up to the audience, which is going to judge on their own,” he noted.
“This is the period of objective reporting, and I feel that had to translate in the movie in the same way,” the director continued. “So I needed to study a lot and get to know everything about the war that I was going to portray. When I work on a character, I don’t want to judge him, so I try to leave this pleasure to the audience. So it’s a way to be close to the story and to the character, but in the same time, also be respectfully a step ahead.”
Jordan also chimed in on his process of respectfully adapting Clancy’s politically-charged story for the screen, as both the lead actor and as one of the producers. He noted that he learned a lot of useful information from his more experienced co-producers during the production, particularly in bringing an action movie of this magnitude to life.
“Just being involved from the absolute beginning to the end made the experience very hands-on, especially in learning how to build the stunts. I learned what the process would be like from having experienced producers like Akiva (Goldsman) and other people who have been through the process of working on high stakes action movies before,” the producer also revealed.
Jordan then noted that he “really following their lead on how to package together thins like an intense airplane crash. Working with the visual effects supervisor to work out that sequence and how exactly we were going to practically shoot it, was really helpful. We discussed, are we going to use the crane on this shot? If so, we need water tanks.
“It was just going through the process of building that out, which was a learning curve for me. I walked away from this movie with more knowledge and experience of how to put those sequences and this type movies together. I know when to shut up and listen and learn,” the producer added. “I think we walked away with something we can be really happy about.”
Shooting the action sequences was also an intriguing process for Turner-Smith, as she was pregnant while she was filming her scenes, which she noted wasn’t an easy feat. Being “pregnant at the time added levels of intensity to the shoot that I didn’t even anticipate. I’m used to feeling okay, as I’m a strong, athletic person, and I can push my body to the limits,” she shared.
“I have a little bit of background in this genre, being that I started on a television show on TNT called ‘The Last Ship,’ which was my first big role on television,” the actress continued. “That was all about running around after the bad guys, so I thought, this was something I was certainly ready to throw my body into. But nobody tells you what your body is going to go through on each project.
“I have trained for many things in my life, but what was required of me physically while carrying the baby during this film was unlike anything that I have ever experienced,” Turner-Smith also admitted. “In terms of what was it like, it was intense, obviously. I worked with a trainer; Michael was so gracious to let me borrow his trainer sometimes.”
Jordan also chimed in on his experiences of creating the action sequences as the lead actor in ‘Without Remorse.’ He pointed out that the experience came with a responsibility of dedicated training, in an effort to make the story as authentic as possible. He also revealed that he has the ability to hold his breath underwater for a long period of time, and look comfortable and relaxed while doing so.
“It’s one of those things where your breath and breathing is definitely a trained thing and is an exercise. If you stop training and you stop exercising that muscle, you can lose it,” the actor pointed out. He also divulged that he “could hold my breath during filming for about three minutes.”
“Underwater training is something we spent a lot of time on; we knew we had these sequences earlier in the script. Stefano would be like, ‘Mike, you know you’ve got to do all these stunts, right?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, course, easy easy, no problem,'” Jordan continued.
“So we hooked up with some military divers and spent time in the tanks. They put us under stressful situations where we would have to problem solve and work through malfunctions and gear failure, as well as military re-breathers,” the performer shared. “We would have a flotation bag, which you would have to manipulate the pressure of, so you could be buoyant enough to stay underwater, but not buoyant enough you would float to the top. I don’t know how many pounds they weighed, but they were so heavy.”
Due to his harrowing experience of losing his family after he returned home from his tour of duty, Jordan’s character of John developed a major distrust in the American government. That need to avenge the death of his wife and their unborn child led him to take any means necessary in order to get the revenge he so desperately craved. Domingo, who played Pastor West in the film, noted that he believes John’s desire to hold the man responsible for his family’s demise will resonate with international audiences.
“It sounds like things we are wrestling with now, right?,” Domingo asked. “What I love about the film is that at the center of Michael’s character, you see he’s just a man who’s trying to do good in the world. He believes in his country and family, and has a spiritual core.
“Then you look at what happens when all that is taken away from this person and what they have to do in response. Sometimes, I feel they’re the arguments we all have – what happens when you can’t play the grace card anymore, and it’s been taken away from you? You’re like, what do I do to try and right the wrongs in society? What access and agency do I have? What am I up against?,” the actor noted. “I think it’s just a great moral conundrum we have in the center of the film. I also think that Michael’s character and the way he portrays him so beautifully will make you get behind him.”
With the love story between John and Pam being the driving force between the decisions that he makes throughout most of ‘Without Remorse,’ London chimed in on what the experience of building the relationship between the characters was like throughout the production. “I think you bring your life experiences to your art, and I always love artists who work like that, so I tried to be honest in that way. Being a mother and a partner myself, and experiencing love on screen to a degree that I was able to experience it in my own life, allowed me to bring a tenderness and vulnerability to my character,” she shared.
“Michael was a really good friend of mine before we ever worked together, which made it really comfortable and respectful. That gave me the space to be vulnerable in this character at the time in my life that we filmed the movie,” the actress divulged.
Jordan echoed his co-star’s sentiment about building their on-screen relationship. “As actors and artists, having the opportunity to express ourselves through our work is sometimes the only release we can really get in that type of way. We were so lucky as scene partners. For Lauren to be so generous to help me personally get through and understand the mindstate of those emotional beats of what a person would be going through in certain situations just added so many layers to my performance across the board,” he gushed about London.
“We did have very open conversations about grief and what it feels like to lose someone so tragically and so soon. So I think those conversations really helped the movement of our characters in their relationship,” the actress also chimed in.
Filming on the drama began in the fall of 2019, before production was put on hold during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The shoot resumed last fall, when ‘Without Remorse’ was originally scheduled to be distributed in theaters. During that time, Amazon Studios acquired the digital rights to the movie, and decided to release it digitally on Prime Video. Jordan shared that he feels grateful to have the opportunity to work with Amazon and distribute the thriller digitally.
“I think (streaming platforms are) giving (audiences) access to films that they quite possible wouldn’t have an opportunity to go and see (in a theater). Certain films are obviously intended to be shot and played in a movie theater, but we’re in an evolving time where the pandemic this last year shifted everything,” the actor-producer pointed out.
“We were victims of that, in the sense of trying to figure out how we would get our movie out, so everyone has the opportunity to watch it,” Jordan noted. “Luckily enough, we were able to land at a place like Amazon to house this film. I think it’s an evolution; it’s going to be a healthy balance between (watching films in both theaters and on streaming platforms).
“There’s something to be said about being able to sit at home and have instant access to the movies you want to see. But I also think there’s something about going to the theater and having that experience, as well. So it’s going to be a nice healthy balance in the future,” the filmmaker predicted.