Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse thematically explores the conflicting question, “What does a soldier’s life mean to his government?” The film is heavily armed with action sequences but whenever it rests to take a break from the arms, its words sound and feel more lethal than a bullet. The narrative focuses on internal politics that values soldiers as the pawn of their government. These ministers steal their identity and their family. What is left comes back to them in the form of a Ghost.
‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ Summary
The protagonist, Senior Chief John Clark (Michael B. Jordan) works for the elite US Navy SEALs and is currently deployed in war-stricken Aleppo, Syria to fight the long middle eastern war. In an operation headed by CIA agent, Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) to extract a CIA Operative from the Syrian Captive. However, John later realizes that the intel was wrong and these missionaries weren’t Arabs. They mistakenly attacked a Russian Armed Depot. John’s anger reaches its height when he loses a man in the op. He rages on Ritter and decides to retire from the army.
Three months later, John Clark is back home with his pregnant wife, Pam who is expecting soon. The happy moments soon turn bloody. A professional group of Russian Assassin’s killed 2 Marines (who worked on the Aleppo mission). Their next target is John Clark. When they attack his house, John manages to kill all but one leaves the premise. John is heavily wounded but his heart gets crushed when he finds out that the killers shot his wife dead. His family is turned into ruins.
Pinned down to the hospital bed, John begs for the fourth name from a former SEAL team member and currently the head of US Navy SEAL, Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). She tells John that her hands are bound by an Oath and she couldn’t reveal the name, even if she knew.
CIA officer Jitter informs Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce) in the presence of Greer that the four assassins were connected to Russia in an official capacity. Jitter also provides them the identity of the killed assassin at John’s house. When Greer asks for the fourth name, Jitter shows his discomfort and communicates that the head of the CIA wants the matter closed. The Russians were trying to settle the score for the Aleppo attack and it’s done. The inactions of the government and the agency further enrage Greer because John lost his wife and they won’t get justice for it.
Greer in anger leaks the information to recovering John. She gives him the name of ex-FSB, Vaseliev who arranged the passports for the former Russian killers. John threatens Vaseliev point-blank and gets the name of the fourth hitman, Viktor Rykov. John is charged with the murder of Viktor but he finally makes his way through to a secretive mission headed by CIA officer Jitter to extract Viktor Rykov hiding in Murmansk, Russia. According to government reports, Viktor is an ex-Spetsnaz officer but Viktor tells John that he worked for the CIA. John finally realizes that someone in the government is trying to start a war. John and his operative team are stranded in a blasted building in Murmansk with snipers constantly firing at them. If the Russian police found any American dead boy on Russian Soil, it would instantly fuel the war between the nations. That was the plan all along but who is the mastermind?
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ Ending Explained
John Clark always suspected CIA officer Robert Ritter as the mastermind behind this dirty scheme. But eventually, Ritter becomes the man who lends a hand to John. John is branded to be a Felon by his own country. Ritter suggests John work as a Ghost Soldier for the CIA and find out who was the man who wanted to start the war between nations. Later, John is declared dead by the team in order to protect his identity.
John finally finds out that Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay was the man behind the dirty politics. But why? John needed the reason and so he threatened Clay. The reason Clay narrates is not only inhumane but in a way the most impacting and integral part of the whole film. Nations like America, Russia, India, Pakistan, and others have always remained a capitalist economy no matter what social status they brand themselves with. Their economy and politics are controlled by the capitalists. Selling weapons to thrive is one of Clay’s reasons to fuel a new war. But his second reason is much more shocking. Clay proudly tells John that a foreign enemy creates a sense of unity among people. When they have a common nemesis, they don’t fight among themselves. Their patriotism is above par at that moment. Clay wanted to give them a real enemy again so America doesn’t fall apart.
“A big country needs big Enemies. The best enemy we ever had was the Soviet Union. Our fear of them unified people. Gave us purpose.”Thomas Clay
John feels pathetic for men like Clay. He jumps the car into the river and Clay death is declared an attempted suicide.
Later, With the help of Ritter, Greer arranges a new passport and new identity for John (John Clark), who leaves the country to live a peaceful life. But can he?
‘Without Remorse’ Post Credits Scene
Robert Ritter has been promoted to the position of CIA head. He meets John in Washington who has come back with a plan. John wants to create a multinational counter-terrorist team made of personnel from all over the world with the full support of their respective national intelligence services. John calls the team “Rainbow” for personal and statistical reasons. His purpose in creating the team is to stop future prospects of war between nations designed by men like Thomas Clay.
Why does John name the team Rainbow?
According to Tom Clancy’s book, the Rainbow Special Operative Force includes personnel from all over the world. It is a bouquet of flags of different nations and the spectrum shows unity.
John’s personal reason to name the team Rainbow is because he wanted to give this name to his daughter who never saw the light of the day. In her memory, John calls his counterterrorist association, Rainbow.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is mindblowing “without a doubt.” Based on Tom Clancy’s novel series, the film has a captivating premise. The theme itself is alluring and Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly is exhilarating. Action sequences like the prison sequence and gunfight sequence blow your mind away. They are extremely well shot by Cinematographer Philippe Rousselot.
The film sets the premise for the upcoming Tom Clancy’s sequels where John will head and lead the further anti-terrorist missions. There are few dialogues in the film, especially the climax argument between John and Clay that is very well written and the subtext is hard to miss. Jordan has sculpted his character as a true fugitive and his rage towards the government, and the system is clearly visible and communicated through his expressions. His subtext is extremely powerful throughout.
The film displays no dull moments and is very intelligently written with several hook-points. However, the emotional content is extremely low. John’s remorse for his murdered wife is too under-explored. It is hard to vouch for his loss. However, the revenge pursuit is totally viable and the layer dominates all other layers. In terms of an action thriller, the film does its job but in terms of an emotional ride, it misses the mark.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is a 2021 Action Thriller film directed by Stefano Sollima. The film is based on the 1993 novel of the same name written by Tom Clancy. It is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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