Watching Michael B. Jordan in a loving marriage and then exacting revenge for his wife’s murder in a franchise-ready action thriller almost makes you forget this isn’t a regular occurrence in Hollywood.
Black leads in big-budget films are not centered on Black trauma, let alone playing roles based on white characters.
In Amazon Prime’s “Without Remorse,” a film based on Tom Clancy’s book of the same name, Jordan takes on the role of former Navy SEAL John Kelly, who’s described in the book as an Irish American Catholic. The movie is the origin story for Kelly and is “hopefully, the beginning of a rich and entertaining franchise,” Jordan, 34, says.
It doesn’t end there.
Jodie Turner-Smith plays Karen Greer, a Black woman lieutenant commander of the Navy SEALs. Turner-Smith’s character is poignant in that her role was written for a man, and as of today, there haven’t been any women SEALs (though one woman made it through training in 2019), alone a Black commanding officer.
Casting wasn’t the only place Jordan and director Stefano Sollima took creative liberty with Clancy’s 1993 novel “Without Remorse.” In the film, Russian operatives break into Kelly’s home and murder his pregnant wife (Lauren London) after his involvement in a secret military plan against them. Kelly sets out on a revenge mission with the help of Greer and the CIA and ends up discovering an internal conspiracy to turn the U.S. and Russia against each other.
“What (Clancy, who died in 2013) did so well was write espionage thrillers and novels that mirrored situations that’s either happened before or could potentially happen again. History repeats itself,” Jordan says. “We wanted it to feel like it’s something that could happen, and maybe has happened.”