Search Results for: ballistic city

Genre: TV Pilot (Sci-fi)
Premise: Inside a giant city within a spaceship, a former detective is hired to find a dead woman who’s uploaded her consciousness into a robot.
About: AMC wants that next big genre show. We reviewed Galyntine a few weeks ago. Now we look at Ballistic City, a creation from Tron director Joseph Kosinski, and written by Pacific Rim and Killing on Carnival Row scribe, Travis Beacham. The show is being pitched as Blade Runner meets Battle Star Galactica. While he’s definitely got talent, Beacham was one of the lucky ones. While in his senior year at college, he sent his latest script out to a recent graduate who’d gotten an intern position at a producton company in Hollywood. All he wanted was some feedback. A few days later, agents and managers and producers started calling, wanting a piece of this new talent.  That script was Killing on Carnival Row.  Beacham and Kosinski met on their collaboration of the as yet un-made remake of the “The Black Hole.”
Writer: Travis Beacham
Details: 60 pages


Here’s a question for you. How many scripts should a writer write a year? Because when you’re Travis Beacham, one of the most in-demand screenwriters in Hollywood, you’re constantly getting million dollar assignment offers. And success never lasts in Tinseltown. Just ask Val Kilmer. So the inclination is to take everything and get that money while it’s there. Indeed, Beacham seems to be writing everything these days (he’s got projects with JJ, with Cameron, with Del Toro, with Fox, with AMC).

Then you have the other end of the spectrum. When nobody even knows that you write. You don’t have anyone paying you or waiting for your next script. When that’s the case, it’s easy to lay back and putter away, finishing one script every three years or so. Which is not good if you want to work in this industry. Writers and managers want prolific screenwriters.

So that’s my question to you guys. How many scripts do you write a year? And how many do you think a writer should write a year? I’m thinking the top number is three.  Anything more than that and you’re sacrificing quality, no?

Speaking of sacrificing quality, Ballistic City isn’t what I was hoping for. I thought I was getting straight sci-fi, but this is more “Killing on Carnival Row on a spaceship” sci-fi. Some of you are going to love that. But this was so focused on the cricks and cracks of this noir-ish city, I began to wander why it was set on a spaceship in the first place. More on that in a second. But first, the plot.

“Ballistic City” is about a giant city on a huge spaceship that’s travelling between the stars. The journey for this voyage is taking so long that the last member of the first generation on the ship just died.

That’s where we come in, and where we meet Canaan Bendix (lots of bizarre names in this script), a private detective for hire. Bendix is hired by the police to look for the “Geist” of this First Generation woman who died. See, First Generation had a robot that backed up her memory. Therefore, when she dies, she’s still “alive” in this robot. Well, as soon as she died, her Geist ran off into the ship. And police wanna find her and ask why.

Bendix goes into the dirty underbelly of the city and Beacham gets to show off what he does best – create big detailed weird worlds. For example, people have modifiers for skin and hair and eyes to make them look like animals. They take “hits” off each other’s memory devices. You know, weird fucked up shit like that.

When Bendix finally finds Robot Chick (who actually looks like a beautiful younger version of our 117 year old dead woman), she claims that she was murdered. But she doesn’t remember how or by whom. So the two team up and look around the ship until (spoiler), it becomes apparent that no one murdered Robot Chick. She murdered herself.

First the good. This was better than Moonfall!

Of course, I’ve seen cats fall sleep on keyboards and create better screenplays than Moonfall. “Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff” is still an all-time favorite of mine.

Ballistic City was good in that “Travis Beacham atmospheric” kind of way. He’s the screenwriting equivalent of a young George Lucas, filling every little piece of the frame with some cool gadget, a detail to help bring the world alive. Like the kids wearing animal mods. Like gene-modifier drugs that turn you into mold. Like dead people living their lives inside glitch holograms.

There’s actually this cool little storyline where Bendix’s old partner killed Bendix’s wife. The partner was convicted, went to prison, and was executed. His memory was placed inside of a hologram, and in accordance with the law, the last week of its life was erased, the week he killed Bendix’s wife. So Bendix goes to meet with his friend every so often, and the partner has no idea he killed Bendix’s wife. He always innocently asks what the last week of his life was like, but Bendix can’t tell him.

Neat stuff like this was scattered everywhere.

But here’s the big reason Ballistic City didn’t work for me. It doesn’t do anything with its premise. And that KILLS ME. We were just talking about this the other week. What’s the point of creating an eye-grabbing concept if you’re not going to explore it at all?? It’d be like building Disney World and filling it with skate parks. Yeah, we’re kind of having fun, but not “Disney World” fun.

Ballistic City may take place on a city inside a giant spaceship, but you wouldn’t know it by how little its mentioned. The ship and its ongoing journey are rarely talked about. And when they are, it’s never in accordance with a plot point. It’s a radio personality blurting out the equivalent of, “This trip is taking too long.”

Whenever you come up with an idea, you first see the material through a macro lens. If you came up with an idea about a future war on Mars, initially, you’d think of the big battles that would take place, all the cool Mars architecture being destroyed, the big beautiful centerpieces of the city.

But as a screenwriter, your job is to find a SPECIFIC vessel to tell the movie through. You must find an interesting character who’s living in this world, is directly affected by this world, who’s directly involved in the problems this world creates, and tell the story through their eyes.

So in our Mars movie, maybe we tell the story of a 20 year old female miner who lives in a dying Mars city.  In fact, the city is almost out of water.  She has the choice of moving to the bigger cities to survive, but if she does, she’ll have to join the army and fight in the war, something she doesn’t want to do. Now we’re tackling the idea through a specific point of view.

Ballistic City decides to make Bendix its specific point of view, and he’s a detective. Okay, I guess that works. A detective will have a new goal each episode (inspect a disappearance or a murder). And a detective will be exploring a big slice of the city, allowing the writers to show every nook and cranny of this unique world.

But if the people whose deaths we’re inspecting have nothing to do with this ship or where it’s going, who cares?? Tell that story back on an earth city. I mean this murder needed to be about someone who knew a secret about the ship, someone who was hiding something and could put a lot of high-powered people in danger.

That way we’d have Bendix, who was previously inspecting a tiny little crime, moving up the ladder to a bigger and more elaborate conspiracy. Plot points should include ship-specific things like a decrease in cabin pressure, slow-downs in engine velocity, the discovery that their course has been changed. This is a show about being on a ship. Therefore, the plot points we encounter need to be about the ship. A show about a robot killing her human self is a different show altogether.

Ballistic City did bring about one good thing though. The question: Would you have sex with a 117 year old woman if she were inside a synthetic fake body? Because Bendix didn’t seem to have a problem with it. But you guys are the final authority on this.  Yes, we’re pushing the boundaries of screenplay analysis here. But if your script doesn’t bring it, we gotta find something to talk about.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Beacham is a big imagination guy. And a lot of people have asked me if should they should “limit” the imagination in their script to account for budgets. Beacham was asked this very question by Film School Rejects. This is what he had to say: “As a writer, you can easily get stuck in the trap of, “Is this doable? Are people going to pay to make this?” I think you have to bury that. You just gotta try the best you can, and if it’s good and people like it, it’ll get made. With special effects nowadays, you can basically do anything. If somebody likes something enough, they’re going to find a way to get it made. When you’re in the early stages of coming up with an idea, you just have to let it tell the idea tell you what it is.”

amateur offerings weekend

Again, Amateur Offerings is when YOU the Scriptshadow readers submit your own scripts in a Battle Royale format. The script that gets the most votes in the Comments section gets a Friday review, where, if the script is good, good things are known to happen. And it’s a special Amateur Offerings post since one of the scripts comes from an idea of mine! Shadows Below is based on an idea I threw out there in an earlier post. Gregory took that idea and he and his partner ran with it. I don’t want to weight script reads though. Try to read as many scripts as you can. Then vote for your favorite in the comments!

Title: Shadows Below
Genre: Action Thriller
Logline: After terrorists attack China on the 4th of July, a submarine commanded by the President’s Daughter and a team of Navy SEALs are all that stand between the US and Nuclear Armageddon.
Why you should read: Hidden around the world are submarines with only one mission: Nuclear Counter-strike in the event of war. Known as doomsday subs for their ability to destroy the world, redundancy protocols give their Captains absolute authority to launch ballistic missiles if communications with command ever stops. — SHADOWS BELOW is a modern day action / thriller that revolves around the President’s Daughter and the US submarine she comes to lead. After American terrorists nuke China’s Naval Command on the 4th of July, a Chinese doomsday sub Captained by a legendary Admiral goes rogue and has just under four hours to start a war by nuking Washington DC. — SHADOWS BELOW highlights every aspect of our Navy, from SEALs to Top Gun Pilots, submarines, and aircraft carriers, all engaging in a desperate battle just off the coast of DC to save America. — It is INDEPENDENCE DAY meets THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER with a female protagonist.

Title: Nerd Got Game
Genre: Teen Comedy
Logline: A high school science prodigy attends a State science convention where he meets a local girl who turns his world upside down.
Why you should read: Nerd Got Game has been through ten plus drafts, including a page one rewrite. The end result is a lean 90 page script that’s ready to go. I love the old John Hughes films from the 80’s and more recent teen comedy efforts like Sex Drive (2008), Easy A (2010) and The DUFF (2015). But teen comedies, like romantic comedies, seem to be a rare bird these days. Time for a comeback.

Title: Sessions of Lead Belly
Genre: Biopic
Logline: A Southern black folk singer walks the line between a violent criminal life and becoming a great American musician.
Why you should read: Inspired by the likes of “Raging Bull” and “Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould”, “Sessions of Lead Belly” is stylistic bordering on surreal and strives for quality even at expense of authenticity. — The nonlinear structure throughout different periods in Lead Belly’s life of the early 1900’s is patterned to best draw interest and convey information, exploring who Lead Belly is and why, as well as the futility of triumph and meagerness of survival against all odds. — Every sequence is nearly standalone, playing out as ambitious mini-stories and innovative short films, each with a calculated build and unique style.

Title: The Feed (based on the novel “Feed” by MT Anderson)
Genre: Sci-fi
Logline: In the 22nd century, a complacent teenager’s life is thrown into disarray when a rebellious girl shows him that his Utopian world isn’t as perfect as it seems.
Why you should read: Yes, this is another teen dystopian sci-fi story. In 2100s America, our brains have been supplemented with “Feeds”. Feeds are amazing sources of information, communication and connectivity. Yet people are further apart than ever, unable to express anything but boredom and materialism. It’s a script full of big ideas like dependence on technology, corporate control, and big-brother paranoia. But more than any of those things, it’s about people. People who are still people, despite being profiled as consumers, targets, and cogs in the machine. — This is my first attempt at a feature-length script, something I finished working on last summer but was just inspired to submit (as I think adaptations are ineligible for SS250). I’ve written two shorts; one was made into a tiny indie and the other was the recipient of a large cash award within my university. The Feed is based on a novel I truly love, and I hope that the script shows that love for the core story and characters.

Genre: Horror
Logline: A newlywed discovers her family has secretly been hunting down werewolves for centuries and must now choose between the life she has and continuing the family legacy.
Why you should read: This is a dark monster tale with some humorous character interactions to ease the ride. It is a telling of how secrets and betrayals can remold us while perpetuating the cycle of revenge no matter how desperately we fight against it. We are, after all, human. I am a nobody putting my spec out there hoping for an “Immaculate Reception” just to get it read. I have submitted this before to you, and you are probably sick of hearing from me however, I am persistent. Although I thought it was ready for contests, and I did send it to Scriptshadow 250, I highly doubt it will make the cut in any contest, because after I sent it, I found errors (I truly suck at proofing), but there may be other reasons it won’t make Carson’s list, or any list this year. However, since that time, it has gone through some revisions that I believe have removed these reasons, while painfully proofing it, and:

— In June 2015: LEGACY was requested by 2 production firms to read.
— Has nabbed a Wildsound contest WIN for a screenplay read, and is scheduled for August 2015.
— Made the semi-finals for 1/2015 “Table Read My Screenplay” Park City, Utah contest.

So, that’s progress, which I would like to continue by having it reviewed here by the SS community, so I have to ask, Carson, are you my ‘Franco Harris?”

Genre: Horror
Premise: When a family moves into their new home in the country, they find a hidden room with a terrifying secret.
About: If you’re anything like me, you were there every Monday night for another episode of Prison Break. Imagine The Great Escape meets Lost meets Orange is the New Black with men. At the head of it all was our hero, Wentworth Miller.  But once Prison Break ran out of prisons to break out of, Miller disappeared, and didn’t reappear until a couple of years ago when he came out with two super-specs that took over the town. To ensure he didn’t taint anyone’s opinion, he sent the scripts out under an alias. The first script, Stoker, went on to a not-so-successful indie run.  The Disappointments Room is Miller’s second script, and supposed to be more traditional. The last I heard, it will star Kate Beckinsdale and be directed by DJ Curoso.
Writer: Wentworth Miller
Details: 126 pages (1st Draft)

wentworth-miller 1Wentworth Miller

The Disappointments Room was about to be one big disappointment until Wentworth Miller went all Travis Bickle on us the last 20 pages. Rarely have I witnessed a script go from so average to so memorable in such a short period of time.

I’m not saying this script is great. I’m just curious why Miller played it safe for so long before he channeled his inner serial killer. Instinct tells me it may be a first draft issue, although everything else in the script is so polished, it’s hard to see why the structure isn’t.

The Disappointments Room starts out a lot like The Conjuring. You have a normal family, led by wife Dana, with husband David and son Jeremy rounding out the cast.  They’re moving into a giant house in the middle of the country with plans to start anew.

But something about the house’s energy is off. At least to Dana. An architect who’s trying to get back in the game, Dana notices an attic window from outside the house that isn’t there on the inside. She goes up to inspect it, and finds a hidden room that only locks from the outside. Someone was kept here.

She starts doing research on the house and learns it was home to a prominent couple known as the Blackers. The Blackers never had any kids. But Dana’s noticing some strange things around the house that indicate otherwise.

She eventually realizes this room is a “Disappointment” room. Back in the day, if you were a prominent family and had a freak child (with like Elephantitus or something), it was too embarrassing to bring your kid into the community. So these families would lock up these “disappointments” in their own little room where they’d live out their entire lives.

Naturally, Dana wants to find out who lived in the room and so continues her sleuthing. Her journey reveals a dark secret from Dana’s own past, that is so horrifying, it makes disappointment rooms look like 80s arcades. But it isn’t Dana’s shocking reveal of this secret that does her in. It’s what her husband tells her after the revelation. That’s the true shocker.

I experienced déjà vu today, as it was JUST YESTERDAY we were talking about not exploiting your premise properly. Once again, we have this strong uique set up (a “disappointments room,”), but very little is mentioned about it.

There’s the reveal of it as a disappointments room, which happens halfway through the script. Then it works its way back into the plot at the very end of the screenplay. But between all that, we have your typical “something’s making a spooky noise in the other room, let’s go check it out” generic horror flick.

I started to wonder if Miller made Fatal Screenwriting Mistake Number 7. Did he pick a concept that didn’t have enough meat on it to build an entire movie around? Admittedly, the disappointment room is a scary idea, but there’s only so much you can do with one room.

Actually, when Dana got stuck in the room early on and nobody could hear her screaming, I thought we were going to stay there with her for the entire movie. She’d be stuck in the creepy Disappointments Room, where she’d almost certainly die. I’m not sure that would be a better script, but at least we’d be exploiting the premise. But she gets out immediately, and it’s back to your typical procedural storyline. Head to the scary library, look up books on who these Blackers are, and see if you can figure out who this child was.

Then I realized this was probably an exploratory first draft. Miller’s figuring things out as we are. It’s the only excuse for why we don’t find out until page 90 that Dana lost a daughter six years ago. That doesn’t work as surprise information. It needed to be known earlier.

Which is why we rewrite. Rewriting is often the practice of moving the exciting things up earlier and earlier in the story so that your script stays exciting the whole way through.  In the next draft, Dana’s lost baby will probably be moved up to page 60. The next draft, page 30. And I’d bet in the next draft still, we’d open on it, sort of like they did in Dead Calm (Nicole Kidman). A dying baby is the perfect inciting incident to get them to move to a new home. And it sets up the ending better.

Outside of the glacially paced story, I can see why this got Hollywood all hot and bothered. Miller’s got a talent for pulling you into the page, forcing you to hear and feel the things he’s describing, then spitting you back out. In particular, he’s got a strong sense of atmosphere he builds into his prose (“It’s now pitch black and pouring rain. The car SLIPS and SLIDES along a muddy single-lane road, branches SCRAPING the sides as they pass. David hunches forward, squinting through the wipers”).

Or take the opening scene, a presumably boring packing scene that reads anything but boring.  We hear the SQUEAL of the packaging tape as it rolls. Miller increasing the pacing by compressing the description with each box packaged, giving the scene an almost frantic feel. Faster and faster it goes, until BOOM, we’re done. You can’t believe it but you actually feel exhausted. After boxes being packed! That’s good writing, my friends, when you can make boxes interesting.

But if Miller is going to compete with the likes of The Conjurings, he can’t just depend on atmosphere and a creepy hook. He needs to look at this script (if he hasn’t already) as an accordion. The whole thing is stretched out from end to end. He’s got to SQUEEZE it together as tight as he can, pushing the first 100 pages into 30, and then he’s got to give us a second act that’s more concept-focused. Jump scares are fun, but Miller’s proven he can knock your socks off with his ending. He’s got to bring that imagination to the middle act as well. I hope he gets there. Because this could be a really good film if he figures it out.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: When trying to come up with scares in your haunted house movies, instead of focusing on the house itself, look to other characters – characters eccentric or unique or who make your hero uncomfortable in some way. One of the most memorable threads in The Disappointments Room is they hire a plumber to fix a mysterious leak in the home. The plumber is intense and scary, but Dana finds herself strangely attracted to him. He senses this, and aggressively puts her in uncomfortable situations, letting her know that if she wants it, he’ll give it. And while she doesn’t do anything with him, she hates that she considers it. That to me is a memorable situation, something I haven’t seen before. It sticks with you a lot longer than, say, the 630th creepy girl in a horror movie trope.

A modern day city war is an idea that needs to be done and reading through this review, I have to say this idea sounds pretty fucking awesome. This may be an older script, but they should think about making this. It could be insane. You’d need to rewrite it and tone down the 80s derivative cheesiness – approach it more realistically – but once you did that, hell, call Michael Mann and get this thing done. I agree with Roger here in his “What I learned” section. I never understood putting quotes or anything else before the script unless it was something that was going to be placed in the movie. Anyway, here’s Roger Balfour with the review (p.s. One day left for the Top 105 Logline participants. Get’em in people. Get’em in).

Genre: Action
Premise: A Colombian Drug Cartel declares war on Los Angeles when Zack Callahan, a disgraced cop who now works as a forensics technician for the LAPD, singlehandedly discovers the Cartel’s 2.4 billion dollar “Cash Mountain”. Zack reclaims his badge and his gun as he struggles to save Los Angeles from the mercenaries sent to destroy the city and reclaim the money.
About: I would venture to guess this was written in 1989 or 1990. I am not certain. But this is what I do know: Jonathan Lemkin has written for “Hill Street Blues”, “21 Jump Street”, and “Beverly Hills 90210”. He wrote the screenplays for “The Devil’s Advocate”, “Lethal Weapon 4”, and “Red Planet”. He also adapted the Stephen Hunter novel “Point of Impact”, released as the Mark Wahlberg vehicle, “Shooter”. Interestingly, he wrote a modern-day time-travelling werewolf Western called “Howl” that he was going to direct for Warner Brothers. To which Roger asks, what happened to this project and can I read the script, please?
Writer: Jonathan Lemkin

This is a screenplay for men.

Okay, it might be a screenplay for girls too, but only if you’re the type of gal that loves the 80s zeitgeist flick where a cop, pushed into his red zone, embraces the Dirty Harry inside of him so he can defeat the bad guys.

In other words, this is a screenplay for boys and girls who love “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon”, the films of Sam Peckinpah, and the music of Ennio Morricone.

It’s also a perfect example of how to write a fucking action movie, and I dare say it, it’s what “Live Free or Die Hard” should have been.

Who’s this Zack Callahan cat? Does he measure up to John McClane or Martin Riggs?

For a guy that considers McClane and Riggs as cinematic father figures, I have to be up front and say ‘No, Callahan doesn’t’.

But he comes pretty damn close. He has charm, he’s excellent at what he does, but he lacks that suicidal, Devil-may-cry edge that gives those characters that extra ‘oomph’.

And that’s the only aspect that holds this script back from an [x] impressive rating.

Although he’s extremely well-written, he’s cut from the same cloth as McClane and Riggs. And rather than feeling original or classic, Callahan feels more like a carbon copy.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t care about him or that this script is a “Die Hard” or “Lethal Weapon” copycat. On the contrary, there’s some cool stuff in here with some city-wide destruction that made me think of “2012”. While perhaps not on par with the above mentioned cop films, it’s better than all of their sequels.

What about the villain, Escobar?

Carlos Escobar is a strong villain. To continue this cop movie parlance and be succinct, he’s more memorable, more lethal than all of the villains in those two franchises, with the exception being Hans Gruber. And he doesn’t have to perform naked tai chi to achieve this status, either.

Escobar doesn’t monologue, he kills.

In fact, that’s how this script opens. In Colombia. With Escobar garroting the poor guy who made the mistake of laundering a Cartel’s drug money for his own personal gain. This caught the attention of Rafa, the head of the Cartel and Escobar’s boss.

Rafa tells Escobar, “The entire western distribution is backed up. He could have touched every level. I don’t want to leave any of it. I want you to go to LA. Start with that prick banker Collier. Clean up this mess.”

And Escobar is off to LA, where he kills the prick banker (making it look like a suicide) and follows the money trail, killing everyone that dared to meddle with Rafa’s business.

What’s interesting is that Escobar isn’t the uber-villain or the guy that’s in charge. He’s just the guy that cleans up messes and takes care of business. However, he is a mercenary, a force of nature like Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men”.

The trail of corpses catches the attention of our hero, Zack Callahan, a technician for the LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division. This script gets points for creating a CSI character before CSI hit our television sets. He uses his forensics and ballistics know-how to reveal that Collier, the prick banker, didn’t commit suicide.

When Escobar kills four heavyweight crack dealers in South Central LA, Callahan matches bullet fragments he found in the prick banker with the bullets at the South Central LA crackhouse.

And it’s not long before Callahan becomes obsessed with the case, and using some old-fashioned deductive gumshoe work, manhandling, and state-of-the art crime-scene investigation, discovers the location of “Cash Mountain”.

What, pray-tell, is “Cash Mountain”?

“Cash Mountain” is a hidden treasure-trove of U.S. currency. It’s 2.4 billion dollars of laundered drug money stored in the derelict Bob’s House of Carpet building.

When the money is stored in the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles for safekeeping, a federal feeding frenzy ensues as the city, DEA, ATF, Customs and the U.S. government fight amongst themselves to get a piece of the spoils.

Meanwhile, Escobar is about to remind everyone that the money doesn’t belong to them. In an act that is a declaration of war on Los Angeles, Escobar uses a dirty state-side lawyer to recruit the best (and scariest) team of mercs Cartel money can buy.

It’s understood these are all men Escobar has used before, perhaps on an individual basis. Not this time. Now, they’re joining forces to bring a city to its knees.

It’s a helluva act turn that hurls this story from a forensic caper into a destructive, grand-scale Spaghetti Western. When the mercs arrive in town for the money, it’s not unlike The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming to reclaim what’s always belonged to them.

They are here for their gold, and they are here to destroy Los Angeles.

Who are our Horsemen?

There’s Paul Balor, a hired killer in his fifties that’s survived this long for a reason. There’s Henri Mercier, a wiry and fit Frenchman. Prakorb Puthong, a looks-can-be-deceiving Thai assassin who is very fond of liquid fire. And the youngest villain of the bunch who represents the new breed of contract killer, J. Boone.

At one point in the script, a C.I.A. dude muses, “A three to five man combat team properly armed, with quality intelligence, could bring this city or any other on this side of the iron curtain, to a complete and total standstill in less than three days.”

And he’s right.

Our villains use everything from grenade launchers, surface-to-air missile batteries, rocket launchers, flame throwers, and generally any weapon you can think of to accomplish their task.

The first thing they do is sabotage the two Converter Stations that supply 80 percent of Los Angeles’ power. Men are reduced to dust in the resulting electrical storms and grass fires and the city is cast into darkness.

Next, they wage guerilla warfare on the LAPD, ultimately infiltrating their comm system. When Zack joins the fray, the resulting battle destroys a city block as bullets, napalm and missiles are exchanged with little respect for human life.

The Mayor is reluctant to show quarter as long as the damage to the city is still in the black. He’s convinced he can use the 2.4 billion dollars to turn L.A. around. He could send every kid in Watts to an Ivy League School. He could pave up all the potholes, get rid of the smog problem.

This is his reasoning: Those electrical plants that were blown up? They only cost forty-two mil, each. Fuck ‘em, he’s not giving up the 2.4 billion dollars. He’s still in the clear! That city block that was destroyed? That block was scheduled for demolition, anyways. These terrorists are saving him money!

He is not going to evacuate the city. After all, “We live in LA because we like catastrophe.”

The battle moves to LAX as Escobar and his team destroy the runways and various buildings with mortars. The National Guard is called in. The mercs attack the interstate system with humvees, razor wire, spikes and belt-fed machineguns.

They demolish a congested freeway overpass with explosives and the resulting helicopter, humvee and surface-to-air missile battle interrupts the seventh game of the World Series when it spills into Dodger Stadium, panicking the fifty-six thousand people there.

It’s pretty fucking fantastic.

How’s the 3rd Act?

It’s the classic end-game ‘Give us back our money or we’re going to blow up all of Los Angeles’ scenario. Carlos and his men take control of the Aurora, a Liquid Natural Gas tanker situated in the LA harbor.

He’s going to use its facilities to create a Blehvey, aka A Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion if his demands are not met.

Zack teams up with his Captain from SID to try and defuse the fancy bomb Escobar has put together:

The mercs are basically using a mainline located in the subway tunnels as a spark, which they will detonate. The subway system will act as a fuse that ultimately leads to the tanker. Blow up the mainline? Blow up the tanker.

Blow up L.A.

The merc deaths are pretty satisfying. Not your usual 80s action mano-a-mano death-matches, but more like Spaghetti Western duels utilizing the dangerous chemicals aboard the tanker.

The final duel between Zack and Escobar is really cool, and it involves a Panzerfaust 3 RPG anti-tank weapon and a flare. It’s good stuff.

Earlier, you mentioned that Zack is a disgraced cop?

Yes. Zack blames himself for a SNAFU that resulted in the deaths of fellow police officers. The manifestation of his guilt was turn in his gun and badge and take up as a technician for the Scientific Investigation Division.

He also became so OCD and withdrawn his wife divorced him.

The emotional core of $$$$$$ is Zack redeeming himself and reconnecting with his ex-wife.

It allows for some character depth, but make no mistake, this script is all about the Good Guy vs. Bad Guys pyrotechnics.

I really enjoyed how this read like a modern day Spaghetti Western, and I think it’s the highlight of this script that separates it from stories like “Lethal Weapon or “Die Hard” and really gives it an air of being its own thing. It feels like a Sam Peckinpah flick, and if he were still around today, I’d love to see this made with him as director. For an 80s actioner, there’s probably no higher compliment.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] barely kept my interest
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I Learned: I’m not sure what to think about screenplays that start with a page full of quotes, as usually they seem pretty extraneous to the reading experience. But this quote kinda fucked with my head and it was one of the reasons that I decided to read the script:

“Imagine drug gangsters murdered Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and his predecessor Ed Meese. Also they kill half the Supreme Court, and then say, another couple of hundred lesser judges, the Editor of the New York Times, and the Mayor of Chicago, and assassinate a presidential candidate, who probably would have won, while he was campaigning.

“That’s about the size of things in Colombia. So, blowing up Los Angeles really doesn’t seem that far out of line…”

This quote is attributed to a Time Article entitled, “Going Too Far”, and it really set the tone for what this script was going to be about. It made me want to read the script. So I would say, if you are going to throw caution to the wind and open up your script with a quote, pick something that’s going to do the work of a logline and make the reader want to dive into the story.