Good evening everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Friday Night Lights series. For those of you who have not been keeping up with FNL, we are now sponsored by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies. This Friday we bring you another installment of Hollywood night vision myths. This time focusing on the Amazon Prime exclusive movie, Without Remorse.
Previous Hollywood Myth Articles.
With Great Remorse
For those of you who have not yet watched Amazon’s exclusive movie, Without Remorse, I apologize for possibly divulging spoilers. However, I am sure you have heard by now that the movie is not great. In fact, the night vision that they used is just as bad as the movie. How bad? While I cannot say for certain, but I would hazard a guess that either the production company was given a very small budget or someone pocketed a lot of prop money and bought the cheapest things they could find and sold it to the production company.
So there was not a lot of night vision use in the movie. But you do see a lot of night vision goggles used as costume jewelry to adorn the actors’ helmets. We are introduced to Lieutenant Commander Greer early on. The actress has what appears to be PVS-31A binocular dual tube goggles but it is the mount that drew my attention.
The problem I have is that the props department chose this mount for some odd reason. It is a Norotos AKA2. I wrote about it in my NVG mount article. Maybe they ran out of other mounts? But it is very obvious. And the AKA2 is not that great of a mount for tall binos like the PVS-31.
With the monocular pods deployed for use, the whole goggle sticks out rather tall from the helmet.
The AKA2 mount has a second stowed position so there is less chance of hitting your folded up binos against something like the ceiling of a vehicle.
But then later on the mission, you see Greer’s helmet using a Norotos INVG mount. Where did her AKA2 go?
If the AKA2 wasn’t bad enough, the INVG is even worse. Both are made by Norotos and they are great mounts. However, they are not great for dual tube systems. The INVG sticks out like a sore thumb and was designed to augment a monocular PVS-14. Fellow TFB writer Richard L used to run this same setup. See his article here.
The problem with the INVG is that it does not fold that compact when lifted upwards. You can see it in the photos above. Instead, it relies on the triangular horn-looking post to rotate and allow a single PVS-14 to move closer to the helmet when the mount is folded upwards.
The INVG looks like a unicorn/rhino horn.
Ritter is also similarly equipped with a PVS-31A and INVG mount.
At least they gave John Kelly what looks like a Wilcox G24. Although they never intentionally articulate the pods to bring them closer to the helmet.
Compare the two pictures below. The first one replicates John Kelly’s setup. The monocular pods of the PVS-31As are articulating and can swing past 90º from the bridge.
This allows the pods to move closer to the helmet. This achieves two things. The weight is closer to your head making it more comfortable. Secondly, there is less chance of snagging them on anything.
Nocorium has a great graphic showing how the position of the monocular pods shifts the CG of the helmet.
Here is a scene where one of the pods was articulated out but the other pod was not. More than likely someone bumped the pod to unfold but left it alone and let the actor wear it as is.
There are only a few moments where John Kelly’s team are using night vision. However, I do not see the stereotypical green or blue phosphor screen bathing their eye sockets with light so maybe the actors are acting blindly with dummy nods?
Without Remorse “Russian Pros”
Now we get into some actual night vision in Without Remorse. I use the term “actual” loosely. The sequence looks like it was filmed through a really old night vision intensifier tube. Possibly an old Gen 1 system. The clarity is terrible. Hardly anything in this scene is in focus.
Then we see the Without Remorse Russian pros. What in the wish.com/amazon are those things on their faces? (rhetorical)
Here are some screen captures of the goggles.
After some digging, I found out the night vision goggles used are Yukon Tracker 1×24. See the pics below and compare them to the ones above.
So it appears they have folding day-night covers. Sort of like built-in butler creek caps. But they also have a pinhole for daytime use. The giant lens in the middle is the IR illuminator.
Here is a better example of how they look. I am pretty sure the NVMT monocular uses the same tubes and they are Gen 1. They need IR to see in the dark. Without the IR illuminator, you cannot see anything at night.
Apparently, these were sold by Firefield as well.
What made me laugh, while watching Without Remorse, was when the Russian assassin flipped up those POS binos and I saw the tiny eyepieces. They have zero pupillary adjustment. The spacing between the tiny eyepieces is fixed. Combine that with the giant eye/face cup. I can’t shake my head or facepalm hard enough.
Here are some screencaps of the shooter’s POV from Without Remorse. You can see as he opens the door there is a very obvious IR illuminator being cast on the door.
This hand is in focus which is odd. Typically you set your focus to infinity so you can see what you want to shoot.
As he opens the door, the bed is out of focus. Of course, this could be done for the sake of storytelling. Often movie cameras will use prime lenses to give a very shallow depth of field. The moviemakers like to use this to draw your attention to what they want you to see. In this case, the next scene.
Rather than show the victim the shooter’s hand and suppressed Glock are in focus. They also have a brass catcher attached to the pistol.
There is no way for this guy to aim his gun other than point shooting. He would not be able to see his front sight post and if he was focused on it, everything past it would be out of focus. The POV you see here cannot be what the shooter actually sees. We already established how bad the Yukon Trackers are. But let’s entertain how he could aim with those goggles and this Glock in his hands. He could use the day filter covers so it would act like a pinhole aperture greatly increasing the depth of field but severely limiting the light coming into the goggles. Given how poorly the image intensifiers perform in these goggles, they would need a healthy dose of light, like daytime or turn the lights on in the room for that to work. However, in the scene below, you can see the shooter’s Yukon Tracker night vision goggles are free and clear of any covers or refocus lenses.
Then the other Russian pro shoots the shooter with an under hand shot. Not sure how he managed to aim since there are no lasers on that gun. Hip/point shooting like Taran Butler perhaps?
Without Remorse Was So Bad
The scene with the Russian Pros is comical. The night vision binoculars they use are Yukon 1×24 Trackers and use gen 1 intensifier tubes. Couldn’t they afford something better? Both in the world of the movie and the production company that made this movie. If these are really Russian pros, the equivalent to John Kelly but in Russia, then they should have access to better night vision. They could bring said night vision into the country or have a sympathetic Russian living in the US acquire better US-made night vision for their clandestine needs.
I could not find a current listing for the Yukon Trackers. They appear to be discontinued but I have seen the price just under $500. What kind of budget did this production have? This is like a high school cinema student budget. No serious unit would use these. Their performance is laughable.
Also if you think about the part where they cut off power to the house. That ended up being a huge mistake. Had they not turned off the power, John Kelly would have no reason to think something was amiss. He would be happily listening to tunes on his laptop and be none the wiser. The Russian Pros could then assassinate him without resistance.
Then there are other issues with the movie. To harp more on the bad choice of gear, take a look at the ear pro/comms that John Kelly and his team used. Those are airsoft-grade Earmor headsets.
What about the opening sequence? Where they pop up out of a small pool of water? Highly doubt there was a man-sized drain for them to swim through and out of into that pool. Then there is the fact John Kelly shot his rifle while underwater.
Shooting an AR underwater would result in a kaboom or at the least cause a major malfunction.
Then there are the weapons of choice used at the end of the movie when they are in Russia trying to go after the shooter that killed Kelly’s family. They are not supposed to live any trace of their presence. So someone, who doesn’t understand firearms, decided on an H&K G36 for Kelly, IWI Tavor for Greer, and a CZ Scorpion Evo for Ritter. Why? Why would you pick those? I didn’t see brass catchers on those guns. All of those guns use NATO cartridges, 5.56 and 9mm. The spent casings were left all around. If you wanted to NOT leave a trace they should have used AKs or at the very least firearms that are chambered in AK calibers.
Without Remorse was so bad but I kept watching to see how bad the train wreck was. There is a scene at the end in the credits that gives me hope but seeing how they botched this production I don’t have confidence they will do it justice. The Jack Ryan series on Amazon was much better than this. I don’t understand how they dropped the ball so badly on this production.