There’s a new military movie coming out soon, and surprise, surprise, it’s about Navy SEALs.
Titled Without Remorse, the film is based on a book of the same name by spy novelist Tom Clancy. Directed by Stefano Sollima, the upcoming action flick stars Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly — who’s named John Clark in the book — a Navy SEAL who uncovers an international conspiracy while on a quest for vengeance after his pregnant wife is murdered.
Here’s how the, uh, plot, is summed up on the movie’s IMDB page: “When a squad of Russian soldiers kills his family in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op, Sr. Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) pursues the assassins at all costs. Joining forces with a fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and a shadowy CIA agent (Jamie Bell), Kelly’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, Kelly must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the powerful figures behind the conspiracy.”
Heavy stuff. Riveting. Definitely not something that’s been done before.
Of all the jobs and roles in the military, few have gotten greater screen time in recent years than Navy SEALs. Its members have received on-screen tributes in 13 Hours, American Sniper, Lone Survivor, and Zero Dark Thirty, as well as having real-life SEALs cast in Act of Valor. That’s to say nothing of their unexpected cameos in other movies, like the submarine flick Hunter Killer, which had SEALs showing up out of the blue to HALO jump through a thunderstorm into Russia so they could do some super-secret stuff on a military base there. Oh, and there’s the many SEAL-centric television shows that have cropped up in recent years, like History’s SIX, and CBS’ SEAL Team.
Without Remorse is just the latest in what has quickly become a sub-genre of military entertainment, which I’ll call: SEAL shit.
Now, SEAL shit, despite how it sounds, isn’t all bad. Zero Dark Thirty’s inclusion of Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), more commonly known as SEAL Team 6, was excellently filmed. And despite a few complaints from those who were actually on the mission to shoot Osama Bin Laden in the face, it has taken very little flak from the military community compared to other movies in the sub-genre such as Hunter Killer, which sank faster than the bad guys’ submarines.
A lot of the gripes about SEAL shit, among military viewers, centers on the fact that these movies and shows focus on a small subset of an already very small portion of the military: U.S. special operations forces. That’s not to say that SOF personnel don’t deserve a great deal of credit and praise for shouldering an immense burden, at great risk and with little respite — they do, without a doubt. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of the many other U.S. service members whose stories have not been told, and whose sacrifices have gone unacknowledged.
Indeed, very little attention seems to be paid to the many other service members who have carried out a wide range of dangerous missions over the last two decades of sustained warfare. And though there have been some excellent shows, like Generation Kill and The Long Road Home, as well as movies (Sand Castle and The Outpost) that pay homage to non-SOF personnel and give the infantry some much-deserved love, it’s a paltry number compared to the sheer volume of SEAL shit out there.
And it looks like we’re going to get another load of it when Without Remorse debuts on Amazon Prime on April 30, 2021.
Feature image: A squad of U.S. Navy SEALs participate in special operations urban combat training. The training exercise familiarizes special operators with urban environments and tactical maneuvering during night and day operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meranda Keller)