While movie theaters are opening back up after being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, two recent action movies released during the spring season seem to harken back to a time long before the pandemic.
Taylor Sheridan is credited as a co-writer on both Those Who Wish Me Dead and Without Remorse. And if neither was based on a published novel, I would presume they were screenplays he wrote years ago trying to break into the industry.
Sheridan was an actor with recurring roles on Veronica Mars and Sons of Anarchy. Then in 2015, Sicaro was released and got good reviews and a few Oscar nominations. The next year, Hell or High Water was nominated for Best Picture, among others including a Best Original Screenplay.
So, it was no wonder that Hollywood executives would come after one of the latest hottest writers. Normally, writers have a script or two they tried to shop around to no avail and now that they’re hot, these scripts are fast-tracked. And everyone sees why the script probably wasn’t produced in the first place.
James Gunn’s The Belko Experiment or John Patrick Shanley’s The January Man are two prime examples of scripts that should’ve stayed buried in a desk drawer on a flash drive or hard drive.
Without Remorse is based on a Tom Clancy novel originally published in 1993 and has been in development hell since then, where it should’ve stayed. While some movies do spend decades being bounced around from actors to directors to script writers to production companies, this is one that maybe should’ve been sent to another producer or director.
Michael B. Jordan plays John Kelly, a Navy SEAL whose pregnant wife is killed by Russian terrorists following a mission his team was on. Other SEALs have been killed too. Kelly is injured but soon learns the U.S. Government considers all that’s happened collateral damage.
And Kelly goes on a quest for revenge in a scene so outrageous, it almost seems like parody. He t-bones a sedan with a Russian official with a tow truck at the Dulles International Airport, pours gasoline on it, lights it on fire, then gets in the back seat, to torture the official as the sedan doesn’t explode.
After this, he is arrested and asked to join another team to go to Europe to track down another Russian terrorist. Or something like that. There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense. Since there were so many writers, maybe they spliced things together into the shooting script.
This is the time of movie with a lot of violence where you think the one guy who is the bad guy is actually a nice guy and the other guy who seems extraneous is actually the villain.
Worse, this movie is setting up another movie. If you know anything about the late Clancy, you know he made bank with the Rainbow Six title. And Kelly is actually John Clark formerly played by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schrieber in better movies, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears, respectively.
Without Remorse is streaming on Amazon Prime even though Paramount who distributed those other two Clancy movies helped produced it. I think Paramount is hoping so much attention will be placed on the suggested Rainbow Six movie, audiences will forgive this first chapter.
Sheridan’s other writing credit, Those Who Wish Me Dead, is based on a novel written by Michael Koryta in 2014 but it could’ve been easily released in 1994 or 2004 as its tone is stuck in a different era.
Angelina Jolie who proved herself as an action star in those Tomb Raider movies 20 years ago plays a smokejumper who is suffering from trauma following a wildfire incident in which neither she or any of her crew were able to save three boys.
She is stationed at a fire watch tower in Montana incidentally in the same region of the Yellowstone National Park. Sheridan has a successful TV series he created titled Yellowstone. However, this movie was filmed in New Mexico.
A forensic accountant in Florida takes his son, Connor (Finn Little), from Florida all the way to Montana where his brother-in-law is a sheriff deputy played by Jon Bernthal. They’re on the run from hired assassins following a home explosion in Fort Lauderdale. The assassins have been sent by mob boss, Tyler Perry, which might be one of the biggest surprises of this movie.
If you’ve seen any movie like this, you know the accountant dad doesn’t make it but Connor gets away and finds Jolie’s character, Hannah, as this is her shot at redemption on saving Connor’s life.
The movie is the typical cat-and-mouse in the wilderness as CGI wildfires rage around them.
The movie is typical for what you’d expect but at least makes more sense than Without Remorse.
But what both movies are missing are the three-dimensional characters that drove Sheridan’s Sicario, Hell or High Water (where even a waitress or bank teller seemed like they should have a bigger role), and Wind River.
I understand these are hired gigs for Sheridan and there probably was a lot lost on his end when the scripts were filmed and/or edited. But just be warned if you’re a fan of Sheridan, this isn’t like his other movies.