Genre: Action -Thriller
Premise: An American economist residing in Dubai gets caught up in a highly coordinated attack on the economies of several nations.
About: Lorenzo di Bonaventura is producing through his Paramount-based shingle, and Eric Bana is executive producing as a potential starring vehicle. Dubai eventually got Cozad signed with Jeff Gorin and Aaron Hart at William Morris Agency. They gave the script to Eric Bana, another William Morris client, who signed on as executive producer before they started shopping it around. Paramount eventually bought it. Dubai also finished high on the 2007 Black List with 16 votes. Interestingly enough, Cozad’s never been to Dubai.
Writer: Adam Cozad
“Dubai” paints the picture of one of the most fascinating and fastest growing cities in the world. As Cozad writes, “Imagine Las Vegas on a supertanker’s worth of steroids and you’re only halfway there.” In fact, I want you to go plug “Dubai” into google images, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the entertainment. They’re building the tallest skyscraper in the world. They’re building artificial islands in the shape of palm trees. Over 60% of the world’s building cranes are there. They don’t have taxes. Construction workers live like doctors. Did I mention they have an indoor ski slope? Yes, it’s all about the money in Dubai. And if you’re like me, you never even heard of Dubai up until a couple of years ago. It’s like the place sprung out of thin air.
So somebody writing a script about Dubai feels like a no-brainer.
But is this a travelogue or is this a story?
Dubai is a cross between The Firm and Syriana. The script starts off great. We’re out in the Middle East with Special Forces operative PHELPS, who’s trying to get permission from the CIA to take out “the next Osama Bin Laden.” The red tape shaves precious seconds off what could be the single most important military operation of the decade. Phelps finally gets his go ahead and he and his team storm the building. But it’s too late. They not only find the room Osama 2 was staying in, but a group of dead doctors to boot. Looks like Osama The Sequel had himself some plastic surgery.
We fade to four years later where we meet out hero, PETER HODGES, playing tennis with his wife, RACHEL. But they’re not just playing tennis anywhere. They’re playing tennis on a helicopter pad in Dubai on one of the tallest buildings in the world. It sets up immediately the decadence and extravagance of this universe.Peter ‘s come to Dubai as an economist/financial trader of sorts, to help a large company that makes a lot of money, make a lot more of it.
The people that he deals with at his business are, for the most part, a group that doesn’t fuck around. In Dubai it’s all about the cash – turning money into more money. If you can’t do that, go back to wherever you came from. This place makes Beverly Hills look thrifty.
Because Peter’s fairly new on the job, his decisions are often challenged by his boss, ALI, andAli’s sketchy high-profile associates. But Peter is the Michael Jordan of the stock market. And in an early scene we see him expertly avoid losing millions of dollars, deftly turning it into a large gain.
Then, late one night, Peter has a fight with his wife and comes to work…only to find a group of soldier-assassins infiltrating his office. He’s able to hide and watches as a billion dollars is transferred out of the company account. When the police finally show up, it’s Peter who looks like the criminal. With only a small jump drive to prove his innocence, Peter makes a run for it. The rest of the script is one long chase scene as the police, Phelps (from the opening), and Peter’s employers follow him through the city of Dubai, all while he pieces together the beginning of a much larger plot to collapse the world economy and make, I believe, Dubai the richest country in the world.
That’s the best I can do to explain the plot and it might still be a little off. The problem with “Dubai” is that its economic component is really fucking confusing. Hotels in other countries are being blown up, all with the daughters and sons of famous finance ministers around the world. Future bombings are set to take place. The billion dollars that was stolen is siphoned into six different accounts that are somehow connected with the three past, and three future bombings. Dubai gets zero points for its clarity. I never got a full grasp on how this plan worked.
Lucky for Dubai, it’s also a chase movie. And we get to run around in this delirious yet decadent metropolis, experiencing the sites and sounds of one hell of a city. We swing on massive cranes. We barrel through downtown on a mega-truck. We race through hotels and ski slopes. When you check coherence at the door, Dubai is actually quite fun.
But Dubai is going to need a lot of work before it becomes the city it wants to be. Besides the economic degree you’re going to need to figure out the plot, there’s a hotel clerk he befriends who’s obviously just there so Peter can talk out plot points and motivations. Also, Peter, presented as a financial geek, inexplicably becomes Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando whenever it’s convenient, and by the end of the movie, is this brooding demanding action star. We’re told it’s because he draws the line at his wife (who’s been taken by Ali). Yet he spends the majority of the first act hardly paying attention to her.
I don’t think Dubai is a bad script. I’m just surprised it was purchased in such a raw state. It feels a good 6 or 7 drafts from reaching clarity. Luckily, it’s got energy and drive. And the lure of filming in this relatively unknown city must have seemed irresistible to Hollywood. You know someone’s going to do it. You might as well be first.
Tarson really liked this script and obviously others did as well. Will be interesting to see the finished screenplay. Take a look at the draft that got the sale yourself…
script link: Dubai
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Research your setting. Know everything that exists in the universe you’ve created – then use everything at your disposal. It’s clear Cozad did a lot of research here. He knew that Dubai is the most construction-intensive city in the world. Which led him to find these super-huge construction trucks. Which led to one of the funnier, more creative chase scenes I’ve seen in awhile – with Peter barreling through downtown Dubai in a super dump trunk going all of 35 miles per hour.