Before you proceed reading this article, go ahead and time how long you can hold your breath. How long did you last? Forty-five seconds? A minute? Now imagine that instead of sitting at your computer/phone, you’re instead totally submerged underwater filming a big action sequence in a blockbuster movie, performing specific choreography and needing to hit specific marks. Do you think you’d still be able to hold your breath for even close to the same amount of time?
Considering that should give you some very real appreciation for what Michael B. Jordan was able to pull off in the making of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – which is a film that features multiple sequences that required all that and more from the actor, and saw him train to hold his breath for approximately three minutes.
Having been extremely impressed with the underwater sequences in the new film, and knowing that the star performed the majority of his own stunts, I asked Michael B. Jordan about this specific part of his preparation for the new action movie during the virtual press day for the release earlier this month, and I was definitely impressed by his response. He explained,
I was pretty good; I mean maybe right under three minutes? I can't remember the exact number, but we definitely spent a lot of time training underwater just to prepare me to be able to just deal with the stress. When you're physically exerting yourself underwater and you're swimming and going through obstacles, you gotta perform mental tasks underwater, you start to use up your oxygen fairly quickly – rather than sitting still and holding your breath; you can hold it for a lot longer. Thank God my stunt team and my trainers, and everybody felt comfortable enough to put me in those positions to be able to do it. So it was a lot of fun.
Admittedly Michael B. Jordan didn’t quite hit Tom Cruise-level numbers in the making of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, as the Mission: Impossible star was able to go six minutes without a breath in the making of Rogue Nation, but it’s still damn impressive. Again, this is something that the vast majority of us can’t do, so credit must be given where credit is due.
The biggest underwater sequence in the new Tom Clancy adaptation plays out toward in the middle of the film and centers around a plane crashing into the ocean, and the movie inspires you to hold your own breath as Michael B. Jordan’s John Kelly dives down so that he can retrieve essential gear from the wreckage. Speaking with director Stefano Sollima during the same virtual press day, he explained that it was the hardest sequence to pull off due to the production’s commitment to make everything as real as possible and the commitment to stay with the hero throughout the action. Said the director,
I would say the plane crash [was the most challenging sequence] because since we wanted to be so close to the character, to John Kelly, and the idea was to build the entire action trying not to change too much point of view, and trying to stick on John Kelly's point of view. And this, of course, in the plane crash you start from in the air and ends up underwater was kind of crazy [by] definition. And almost everything you see in the movie is done practically. So we had a really physical airplane, and then we have this big long track tracking shot from when he's seated, to when we get the water, to when the airplanes split in two, and then he decides to go and to emerge himself and start swimming in the fuselage that is sinking. So this beast sequence was absolutely crazy to shoot.
Hopefully you’re now excited to witness the sequence for yourself, because you’ll be able to witness it in just a couple days. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, which co-stars Jamie Bell (making it a Fantastic Four reunion), Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, and Guy Pearce, will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting this Friday, April 30. To find out about more great currently stuff playing on the streaming service, check out our Amazon Prime Video guide for April 2021.