Tom Clancy’s Universe Gets a Modern-Day Makeover in ‘Without Remorse’

“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse,” the movie adaptation of the classic military action novel, throws down with no apologies and zero remorse. The filmmakers didn’t want to make a throwback period movie, so they had to update the characters and plot to explain how Navy SEAL John Kelly transforms into lethal shadow operative John Clark.

The movie, originally slated for release in theaters last year, is being released worldwide on the Amazon Prime streaming service and fits in well with the channel’s take on “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” in their successful series starring John Krasinski.

Once Michael B. Jordan signed on to play the lead role, Director Stefano Sollima (“Sicario: Day of the Soldado) and screenwriters Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water,” “Yellowstone”) and Will Staples (the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” videogame) took that as their cue to reinvent the entire Kelly/Clark universe.

That’s inevitably going to traumatize some Clancy fans, but a younger generation just wasn’t going to get excited about the Cold War/Vietnam/Central America combo platter that fueled action thrillers in the ’80s. Of course, the Soviet era may be over, but Russians still make for some excellent enemy villains.

The basic framework is still in place: Kelly’s life is shattered by outside attacks and he sets out on a quest for justice and revenge for the deaths of those he loved.

Jodie Turner-Smith Michael B Jordan Without Remorse 2000
Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan star in “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

They’ve also invented a character who is Jim Greer’s niece. Plus, she’s a Navy SEAL. With this character we’ve unapologetically left the realm of the real for an alternate universe where women are already commanding SEAL teams. Lt. Commander Karen Greer is played as a ruthless badass by Jodie-Turner Smith, who established her badass credentials in “Queen & Slim” alongside Daniel Kaluuya.

Jamie Bell is on board with a new take on CIA operative Robert Ritter and Lauren London plays Pam, the woman whose death inspires the SEAL’s quest for revenge. This time, Pam is Mrs. John Kelly, which puts a different spin on Kelly’s rampage.

The whole movie is an elaborate setup for a “Rainbow Six” movie and, unless Amazon and Paramount commit to another theatrical-sized budget for a streaming film, we may never get to see the concept fulfill its promise.

It’s hard to figure how hardcore Clancy fans might react. If you’re good with John Krasinski’s version of Jack Ryan, you should be more than okay with Michael B. Jordan’s take on John Kelly/John Clark. If those novels are sacred texts for you, you’re going to struggle with this even more than you have with all the other movies that haven’t exactly filmed Clancy’s novels as written.

We spoke to the cast and director in the weeks leading up to the release and they know exactly what they’re getting into by taking on a Tom Clancy character. You can watch a video of our conversations below.

Michael B. Jordan (John Kelly)

Michael B Jordan Without Remorse
Michael B. Jordan stars in “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

Jordan is a world-class action star, as he’s proved already in the “Creed” movies and “Black Panther.” He talked to us about how he trained for this movie and how that differed from what he does for “Creed.”

Director Stefano Sollima

Michael B Jordan Stefano Sollima Without Remorse
Michael B. Jordan stars in director Stefano Sollima’s film of “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

Sollima, who also directed the outstanding Italian organized crime drama series “Gomorrah,” took on the project knowing that he had to modernize the plot and the characters. He takes us through the process of making those changes.

Jodie Turner-Smith (Karen Greer)

Jodie Turner-Smith Without Remorse
Jodie Turner-Smith stars in “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

Imagine a world where women were already serving on SEAL teams and that those women were the biggest badasses on the block. Turner-Smith talks about how she prepared to play a character who doesn’t yet exist in the real world.

Jamie Bell (Robert Ritter)

Jamie Bell Without Remorse
Jamie Bell stars in “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

The kid from “Billy Elliott” has grown up to be a reliable and talented adult actor, recently portraying songwriter Bernie Taupin in the Elton John biography “Rocketman” and Abraham Woodhull on the underrated Revolutionary War espionage drama “TURN: Washington’s Spies.” He talks about finding his own approach to Ritter, a CIA operative with a checkered history in the Clancy universe.

Lauren London (Pam Kelly)

Michael B Jordan Lauren London Without Remorse
Michael B. Jordan and Lauren London star in “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.” (Photo: Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures)

London discusses how she prepared to play the spouse of a special ops warrior.

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