Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. (Courtesy)

Should you watch a movie first or read the book? Should you watch a movie if you’ve read the book or read the book if you’ve watched the movie?

It is a debate book lovers struggle with.  I fall in the category of reading the book and leaving it at that. Or at the most one or the other, never both. I find reading more engaging, the possibilities are endless. I tried both with the Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series; never went far with the movies.

But when the movie Without Remorse was released, it called out to me differently. Tom Clancy is one of few authors whose complete works I have read and Without Remorse (published 1993) is a personal favourite. The John Clark series (all of two books) is one my favourite fictional series. The other book in the series is Rainbow Six (1998).

So when the movie came out I broke my rule and watched it.

It might have been a mistake but there was a compelling reason. One of my best pop fiction authors teams up with one of my best new generation of Hollywood actors; Michael B Jordan as John Kelly, the protagonist.

The casting of Jodie Turner Smith as his commanding officer didn’t hurt either.

However, after the intro, the movie made no pretense of staying true to the book. 

In the book, John Kelly, a former Navy Seal has just lost his wife in a car accident. He picks up a hitchhiker, Pam Madden, who turns out to be a runaway drug mule and prostitute. They eventually become lovers. When Pam is hunted down and killed, Kelly sets out on a revenge mission that threatens to consume him.

In the movie on the other hand, Kelly’s pregnant wife Pam is murdered when Russians break into their house on a revenge mission from one of his operations with the team.

This action sends Kelly over the edge and after his own pound of flesh.

That said, it is a great movie, both in pace and story. Just don’t go looking for a Without Remorse (the book) storyline. The movie and the book are only as much alike as siblings who share a surname, and nothing else. The only similarities is the title, idea and a few names of characters. After that every sibling takes their own path in life.