‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’: The Ending Explained

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse introduces Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly, a former SEAL on a very personal mission. Kelly’s story connects with some of the other Clancy books and movies, and understanding that is key to understanding the ending of his new adventure.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.]

Without Remorse stars Michael B. Jordan as John Clark
Michael B. Jordan |Nadja Klier/ Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

Showbiz Cheat Sheet is here to help. Here’s an explanation of the ending of Jordan’s new movie, and how it relates to the Clancy world. 

Who is John Clark in the book ‘Without Remorse’?

At first, he’s not even John Clark. He’s John Kelly, and the movie Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse begins the same way. Kelly returns home from a mission in Syria, in which his team rescued hostages who were revealed to be ex-Russian Military. He and his SEAL team are attacked, and only Kelly survives. They even kill Kelly’s pregnant wife in a home invasion attack. 

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse: Ritter and Greer speak in private
Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith | Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

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After recovering from gunshot wounds in the hospital, Kelly goes after the men connected to the Syrian mission and the suspected assassins. Kelly teams up with Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) to lead another team into Russia to capture the Russian agents, although Kelly isn’t necessarily interested in taking them alive. 

How the ending of ‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ sets up more John Clark adventures

After a harrowing mission in Russia, in which Kelly’s team has to fight off not only the Russian terrorists but the Russian government who does not want U.S. forces there, Kelly returns home. By this time, he’s learned that Secretary Clay (Guy Pearce) spearheaded the Russian terrorists. Clay believed that America needed a villain, and he could create one.

Kelly takes Clay in his car and confronts him. He drives the car off a bridge and forces Clay to admit killing Kelly’s wife while the car fills with water. The car sinks to the bottom and Kelly sits in the driver’s seat, seemingly at peace with drowning. Without Remorse then cuts to his funeral as he’s buried alongside his wife. 

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse: Greer and Clark on a mission
Jodie Turner-Smith and Michael B. Jordan |Nadja Klier/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

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But, when Greer returns to her car, Kelly is waiting for her. A flashback reveals they had planned to fake his death as she arrived at the submerged car with a breathing apparatus. Kelly was also recording Clay’s admission to incriminate him. Greer gives Kelly a new identity, John Clark. He jokes that it’s not very creative, and Greer acknowledges that’s not the CIA’s forte. Clark is now ready for off the books missions. 

Other Tom Clancy connections 

Fans of the Clancy books and movies will recognize the names Greer and Ritter, too. If Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is your first, here’s a little more background. 

Greer is the niece of Admiral Jim Greer. The Admiral is Jack Ryan’s mentor. James Earl Jones played him in the Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford movies. Morgan Freeman played him in The Sum of All Fears.

Without Remore: John Clark holds Robert Ritter by the neck
L-R: Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan | Nadja Klier/ Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

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Ritter is Kelly’s prime suspect for most of the movie, but he’s wrong this time. He should still keep his eye on Ritter, though. Played by Henry Czerny, Ritter will become the mastermind of a conspiracy in Clear and Present Danger.