By: Eammon Jacobs
Without Remorse saw Michael B. Jordan hurl himself into a mission of revenge over the assassination of his wife and unborn daughter after Russian operatives hunted him down for a mission gone wrong in Syria. But in a surprising development, their deaths were connected to a wider conspiracy that threatened to ignite a new war between America and Russia.
Like most spy thrillers, it started to get a little complicated with a few last minute twists before the credits rolled.
There’s a lot to unpack after you’ve seen the movie (you can read our Without Remorse review when you're done watching), and of course there’s the obligatory mid-credits scene which teases more to come from Michael B. Jordan’s John Kelly/Clark…
*Warning: major spoilers for Without Remorse will be discussed from hereon out.*
Why was John Kelly’s wife murdered?
After the tragic assassination of his pregnant wife, Michael B. Jordan’s John Kelly uses his US Navy SEAL skills to hunt the ones responsible for the attack, as one of his attackers managed to flee back to Russia. Working with Senator Clay (Guy Pearce) and shady CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) he eventually tracks down Viktor Rykov (Brett Gelman) in Murmansk.
When Kelly finally faces Rykov, the villain makes a surprising confession; he’s working for America. The original attack in Syria during the film’s opening, the assassination of Kelly’s squad and his wife were all part of a CIA plan to stoke tension with Russia to kick off a new global conflict. But like any wannabe martyr, Rykov is strapped into an explosive vest, holding a dead-man’s switch. Realistically, he isn’t the puppet-master behind it all, he’s just been a trigger-man. So although he blows himself up, his death doesn’t really give Kelly the peace and closure that he needs because the real culprit is still at large, only this time they’re a little closer to home.
It’s only when Kelly makes it back to the US in just about one piece that he unmasks the real villain behind it all - Senator Clay. A twist on a twist! And during an intense conversation where Kelly even threatens to execute Clay’s children (two wrongs don’t make a right, John), the Senator reveals how a new war would provide a huge boost to the country’s economy. He compares it to World War II, with all the money that was spent on building tanks, planes and weapons before explaining that fighting Russia would also unify the US like never before because of the long-standing tensions between the two nations. So the escalation of violence had to look legitimate enough to ignite a deadly new war, that’s why Kelly’s family had to die... Cool motive, still murder.
Unfortunately for Guy Pearce’s shady politician, Kelly still needs to carry out his revenge to get any semblance of closure on the whole situation, with the soldier driving the pair off of a bridge into a river so he can watch Clay drown. (Might be worth going to therapy too John, just a thought.)
And in the film’s closing moments, it’s revealed that the hero also faked his own death so he can go out into the world as ‘John Clark’, which is the identity of the character in Tom Clancy’s novels. It’s almost like Without Remorse is gearing up for a sequel...
What does Without Remorse’s mid-credits scene mean?
So after a brief feeling of “is that it?” that comes with the credits, Without Remorse swiftly delivers a mid-credits teaser which reveals an interesting future for the newly christened John Clark. Set one year after the events of the film, John meets up with his CIA frenemy Robert Ritter, who’s since been promoted to CIA director. And the film delivers its own Avengers-moment as Clark reveals he’s been ruminating on the whole scenario which got his wife killed.
He tells Ritter that he wants to create “a multinational counter-terrorist team made up of US, UK, hand-selected NATO personnel with the full support of the national intelligence services”. That might sound a little familiar to anyone who’s ever read a Tom Clancy book or played the huge array of games that the author’s name is attached to. And just to fully pay it off, John says he’s calling it “‘Rainbow”, but won’t say why because “it’s personal”. Clearly, the implication being that Rainbow might’ve been the name of his unborn daughter, for whatever reason.
The Rainbow Six games are all based on Tom Clancy’s book of the same name, which follows John Clark as he leads the counter-terrorist unit on various missions. The story of the book might need some work to suit the present day though, since it features a plot about a biotechnology firm planning to release deadly virus into the world as well a vaccine which would purposefully kill the remaining population. Yeah, that might be a little too controversial given the current global situation...
But the set-up for a sequel isn’t actually that surprising, since Variety confirmed back in 2018 that Michael B. Jordan had signed on to play John Clark in Without Remorse and Rainbow Six as part of a duology. Although depending on the success of the 2021 film, it wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon and Paramount collaborate on further instalments in the series.
Enter the Clancyverse, anyone?
Without Remorse comes to Amazon Prime Video on Friday, 30th April – check out our guides to the best movies on Amazon Prime and best Amazon Prime series, or visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.