A busy day at Scriptshadow so this is a repost from the newsletter.  Enjoy! 

Genre: Thriller
Premise: A joint American-Chinese task force enlists the help of a jailed hacking legend to look into a mysterious cyber attack on the Chicago Stock Exchange.
About: Cyber (or “Untitled Cyber Story”) is Michael Mann’s newest directing project, which has already been shot and is now in post-production. The most surprising thing about this project is that it’s written by a writer without a produced credit, Morgan Davis Foehl. To see someone of Mann’s stature working with an unknown writer is quite a shock. Foehl’s industry experience up to this point has been as an assistant editor. He worked on a couple of Adam Sandler flicks, Click and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. So… yeah. That’s pretty exciting for any young writer looking for a big break. “Cyber” will star the new Channing Tatum, aka Chris Hemsworth, whose goal is to star in every movie from now until 2016.  Unfortunately, that still won’t beat Tatum’s record, who was able to star in 617 movies between 2012-2014.  This marvelous feat was achieved despite there only being 602 movies released during that period.  An investigation found that he achieved this by studying Mark Wahlberg and advancing his techniques, occasionally playing two roles in the same movie, and changing his name in order to secretly secure other parts in the films.  In fact, he was kicked off of 22 Jump Street when it was discovered he was impersonating Jonah Hill through the first week of shooting (he’d conned Hill into not showing up, telling him the production had been moved to next year).  After apologizing, he was able to come back to the movie.
Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl (story by Michal Mann & Morgan Davis Foehl) – Current revisions by Michael Mann
Details: 127 pages – THIRD DRAFT – 7/13/12

Chris-Hemsworth-01

The great Michael Mann hasn’t been as crazy great as he once was. After directing a couple of my favorite films of the 90s (Heat and Last of the Mohicans), his more recent films (Public Enemies and Miami Vice) have been okay, but not as good. Of course, they’re Michael Mann films, so you always find something good in them (this guy can combine an image with a score like no other), but they just don’t contain that same magic his earlier films had.

Speaking of, I always felt like Mann’s early pioneering of video hurt him. The technology wasn’t up to snuff when he used it on Miami Vice and Collateral, which is an issue when part of what made Mann’s films so cool was that smooth rich palette only 24 fps can provide. Public Enemies looked particularly strange to me, as it was the first period piece to be shot on video. Something about that aesthetic didn’t jibe with the period, so it always felt like an awkward film.

Of course, all that is moot now. Everything’s shot digitally and they’ve figured out 99% of the glitches. Which means “Cyber” will depend entirely on its story. Let’s see if that story’s any good.

Unbeknownst to the computers at the Chicago Stock Exchange, a Trojan horse has invaded their system and begins raising the price of soy beans four-fold. Half a world away, a ship carrying soy beans is turned away from a port because its insurance only covers ¼ the cost of its newly affected payload.

Cut to China, specifically the Peoples Liberation Army, who own a ton of soy bean stock. We quickly learn that soybean affects the price of a lot more than soy beans. Most notably, it’s a protein filler in animal feed. Which means food prices everywhere are skyrocketing. The Chinese send their best man, Chen, to America, to find out what the fuck is going on.

Clearly, allowing the Chinese access to sensitive financial market data is not in the U.S.’s best interest, but with trade between the two countries being so vital, they don’t really have a choice. They must work with Chen. But things are about to get worse when Chen demands his old college roommate, the best hacker in the world, be brought in to help. Problem? His roommate is serving 20 years in jail for cyber crime.

After a lot of arguing, Chen gets his buddy – Nicholas Hathaway – out of jail. Hathaway quickly realizes how bad the U.S. needs him and makes them a deal. If I figure out who did this, you free me. They reluctantly agree and Hathaway’s motivation is established.

They eventually track the hack to a Middle-Eastern Man named Kassar. Kassar raised the prices of soy beans in order to make a quick 150 million dollars for… what? That’s the question. He’s clearly going to use the money to fund something terrible. A later hack by Kassar of a nuclear reactor raises those stakes even higher. This Kassar guy is up to no good. So Hathaway, Chen, and the rest of the special team chase Kassar all around the globe in hopes of finding him before he’s able to unleash his plan of destruction.

HeatAnybody who made this movie gets a lifetime pass for any bad movie they make.

“Cyber” was a very ADULT thriller. In other words, this isn’t Taken. You’re going to do a lot more thinking as you make your way through this story. You’re going to find yourself challenged. At times, that’s a blessing, but other times it’s a curse. Throughout the first half of the story, I was right there. I loved the intrigue and mystery of this soy bean hacker (that’s a weird phrase: “soy bean hacker”). It seemed like such an innocuous thing. But then that innocuous thing kept leading to bigger and scarier realities.

I just don’t think the payoff (at least in this draft) was any good. Somewhere after the mid-point, the story began to get murky. We needed to go to Turkey, and that felt like one country too many. We’d been hopping all over the globe, and at some point I got tired of the chase and just wanted answers.

And when those answers were finally given, they didn’t pay off. 150 million bucks. Funding for an attack. A nuclear reactor breached. We’re thinking something REALLY BAD is going to happen, right? But without spoiling anything, the big “attack” is something done halfway across the world in a place I didn’t care about. I wanted Americans to be in danger – the country that was actually doing the investigation. Not some random country we only learn about at the very last second.

Outside of the plot, I liked the stuff Foehl added inside the task force. Chen’s sister is part of the task force, and Hathaway ends up falling for her. When Chen finds out they’re fooling around, he’s not happy. So there’s conflict within the group, which is good.  That was one of my big problems with yesterday’s script.  The two main characters on this trip were perfectly fine with each other.  There was no conflict whatsoever, and therefore very little drama.

But Cyber didn’t go as far as it could’ve in that respect. Chen’s mad about his sister, but he eventually gets over it, and I don’t think it affected the investigation that much. I actually wondered if the script would’ve been better had Chen and Hathaway NOT known each other, had NOT been friends (and possibly even been enemies).

Think about that for a second.  A huge hack in the financial system that potentially threatens the two biggest countries in the world, China and the U.S., forces them to work together.  The American character wants to do things his way. The Chinese character is obviously going to want to do things differently.  Talk about the perfect concept to explore the current lukewarm relationship between these two behemoth countries.  By making Chen and Hathaway former friends, any potential exploration of that dynamic was destroyed.  These two needed to distrust each other and have a world of secret motives coming from their respective countries to really make this investigation pop.

I do think there’s enough good here to recommend the script. It just could’ve been better. I’d love for it to be tightened up but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Mann likes to run his films a little long and he’s shown he knows how to do that so I’m not going to question him. But something tells me this had the potential to be something much bigger.

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

What I learned: Don’t let your story linger at the end. Don’t take us on that one extra journey if you don’t have to. Nip it in the bud and get to the good stuff. Remember that the end of the script must feel like it’s building, not deflating. By going off to Turkey late in the story, this script lost all its momentum. I think it needed to clip that section and get us to the climax.  Of course, that very well might’ve been something they did in subsequent drafts.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Can anyone point me in the direction of this?

    It would be good to be able to discuss a professional script for a change.

    • Bifferspice

      what’s your email?

    • Craig Mack

      Hey Jake– I’m new here, do you have any of your own work posted or produced?

      Thanks,

      C

      • JakeBarnes12

        Unposted, unproduced, and unhinged. :)

        • Craig Mack

          Ha, ok. I just like to gauge who I’m taking advice from.

          All the best. :)

          • JakeBarnes12

            It’s the blind leading the blind round these parts, Craig.

          • Craig Mack

            Oh, I wasn’t clear in my post

            I just wanted to read some of your work, before I take advice from someone. I don’t really care if it’s produced or not…

            Smart comments are easy to make — just not necessarily east to execute on paper.

            Thanks–

            C

          • mulesandmud

            Sounds suspiciously like your goal is to judge the speaker more than it is to consider the quality of their argument. That’s called ‘appeal to authority’, and is a classic fallacy of logical reasoning.

            Produced or not, here or elsewhere, smart comments are rare and precious and should be treated as such, regardless of their provenance.

          • Linkthis83

            The challenge is discerning which comments are actually “smart” versus the ones that sound smart.

            There are posters on here that make what appear to be excellent posts, but under analysis, aren’t quite as useful as they “sound”.

            So it makes sense that Craig (or anyone) might try to implement some sort of criteria for credibility/trust.

            We all know that it’s easy to make comments about what we feel should be done in a script, and it’s rare that we actually execute those as well.

            We learn over time here which feedback we feel is useful to us and which isn’t. So, it’s fair to judge the speaker a bit. However, I also believe that if there is truth in a message, it doesn’t matter so much who is speaking it.

          • mulesandmud

            A glimpse of someone’s C.V. doesn’t change the nature of their comment. The thoughts are either cogent, or not. Whether those thoughts hold up under scrutiny, or whether they prove useful in practice, that’s completely the responsibility of the reader/listener. Such is the nature of discussion.

            The anonymity of the internet is a luxury, and at its best lets the words speak for themselves. Like you, I’ve formed opinions about individual posters here, but I do so on the merits of their posts which, for the purposes of this board, are the only criteria that matter.

          • Linkthis83

            “A glimpse of someone’s C.V. doesn’t change the nature of their comment. The thoughts are either cogent, or not. Whether those thoughts hold up under scrutiny, or whether they prove useful in practice, that’s completely the responsibility of the reader/listener. Such is the nature of discussion.”

            In my opinion, this is an example of my point of “smart vs. sounding smart.” This philosophical argument implodes upon analysis. :)

            And we both already know the futility that follows. To simplify, I wasn’t advocating that the credentials matter, but that it makes sense that one might use them as a weighting system for advice/feedback. It is up to the receiver to decide how to proceed. Of course, this all stems from the simple misperception of Craig’s post that appeared to say “How I interpret your feedback is directly correlated to your experience.” — Which Craig has already cleared up.

          • mulesandmud

            Craig misspoke, then retracted, no harm no foul. Now you’re staking out an even shakier claim that he did. Here it is:

            “I wasn’t advocating that the credentials matter, but that it makes sense that one might use them as a weighting system for advice/feedback.”

            Talk about imploding upon analysis. Either they matter, or they don’t. You’re arguing with yourself here, and it’s bad logic. See what I mean?

          • Linkthis83

            Ah, so you want futility to show you are smart and sound. I love the ego. Even when we believe we are suppressing it, it still sneaks in there.

            If it’s bad logic to say I don’t advocate for something but understand why others might, then I own that. Forever and ever.

          • mulesandmud

            I see. Conversation aborted, then.

          • Linkthis83

            I really thought I was just saying that while I may not share someone’s paradigm, I can still see it as a perspective one might choose. Or, really, the beginning of paradigm development. I had to go through it when I started and do so continually.

          • mulesandmud

            Aborted.

          • Craig Mack

            Mules,

            That’s not what I was saying at all… I’m not looking to smear anyone.

            This is snowballing into something that it is not.

            Carry on..

            C

          • mulesandmud

            Copy that. Snowball has been shoveled. Back to regularly scheduled programming.

          • Randy Williams

            Regular scheduled programming.

          • Kirk Diggler

            I think this clip works best with any Adam Sandler movie.

          • astranger2

            Isn’t this where he sees his daughter in a porn film? RAGE, or something?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            That would be Paul Schrader’s HARDCORE :)

          • astranger2

            Oh, yeah. I get those two films confused. Paul Schrader? No wonder. Thanks!

          • astranger2

            Have you ever seen The Way Back?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            The Peter Weir film ? If that’s the one, then yes, I have and I enjoyed it a lot :)
            I like movies like that – few characters, one location (sort of…) and a touching, human story. Even though I tend to veer towards the horrific myself when writing :)

          • astranger2

            Crevasse is horror? I thought it was sic-fi? or both?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Sort of, yes :) But more psychological and atmosphere oriented than visually graphic.

          • astranger2

            You must be extremely talented. I’ll bet it turns out to be a wonderful film. ; v )

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Thank you for that compliment ;) But I don’t believe in talent without hard work. Turns out the hard work I’ve put in daily for the past fourteen years (only the last six working on screenplays) is paying off :) I’m happy and proud about that but as they say, this is just the beginning. What I’m hoping for is the chance to be able to keep writing and selling screenplays.

          • astranger2

            Do you mind my asking? How much do you write each day? Or each week?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Well, I also have to work my day job but I do write every day and at least for two hours. I work freelance, translating scripts and subtitling DVDs so obviously, it takes up a lot of my time but I’m used to not having any real work hours so yeah, seven days a week and also in the evenings.

            A social life ? What ?? ^_^

          • astranger2

            No wonder you’re successful. The script translating and DVD subtitling must be like paid studying though. Anyway, I don’t want to interrupt your work. Like they say, luck is infatuated with effort.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Translating scripts is a great help as you learn what to do and what not to do a bit more “hands on” than by just reading them. I do read some horrendous stuff that would get laughed off SS but hey, crap gets bought and made in Hollywood as well (I live in France). Right now, I’m definitely learning with a Douglas Buck script. Damn, that man can write !

          • astranger2

            I’m not sure — I think it was a Shane Black article, or maybe an old Mamet one, where he said he would take a screenplay or a Hemingway novel, or whatever, and just type the entire thing from scratch.

            I know it’s been suggested by a lot of writers — but most insist it’s an invaluable process. Oh, I think it was Hunter S. Thompson. Not that it’s a new idea. Douglas Buck? It’s really cool when you find someone you can really sink your claws into…

        • Jarman Alexander

          The 3 U’s of potential!

  • andyjaxfl

    Is there a unique set of hacking skills that Hathaway possesses that no other hacker in the world does, or is his release from prison just as ridiculous as it seems on the surface? At least in 48 Hours, Eddie Murphy is released to provide on-the-spot intel as to where the bad guys are headed next.

    • Scott Strybos

      (Not having read it) I think it has more to do with the protagonist knowing the hacker firsthand and what he can do, instead of an unknown variable.

  • Buddy

    hm, not really impressed by the logline…where’s Mann’s mojo ???

  • Jarman Alexander

    If you want your movie to have more appeal in the spec market, for the global market, make your main protag Chinese/ use China as a setting. I only see this trend continuing to go up with the box office market opening up over there.

    • Randy Williams

      However, be aware it could be banned or parts censored if anything is deemed sensitive. China is one of those countries where “there are no gay people” for example, so avoid that subject. Wasn’t one of the Pirates of the Caribbean banned there?

      The globe is much bigger than China.

      • Jarman Alexander

        Well there’s China’s 1.4 billion people at 20% of the worlds population, and then there’s America’s M300people at 79% of the worlds population, and 1% made of America’s enemies, so still pretty significant. (numbers may be off).

        I am with you 100% on not writing a romcom staring two Chinese men though. Wouldn’t be any way to cut that thing into a viewable print over there.

        • Randy Williams

          That would actually make a funny premise for a movie. Hollywood director has made a gay rom com with famous Foreign actor for the American audience. Fans back home in foreign country are clamoring to see the star in the movie, not knowing the story line. Director now has to cut it to pass the censors over there, removing any trace of romance between the two men.

          • Jarman Alexander

            The struggle of that director would be epically hilarious. I’m picturing a wife or gf opening up the door to the pitch black editing room, flipping on a light to reveal the director sitting out-of-body with a wildly out of place comb over like those found kingpin.

          • Randy Williams

            LOL @ above. Maybe the girl could be a reluctant rep of the foreign country overseeing the movie’s release. They fall for each other but the director in the end, tired of the loops he’s made to jump through with ridiculous results of splicing and dubbing and the blatant discrimination, includes a scene in the movie that is subversive and gets her fired. At the same time that scene expresses the deep and worthy love he has for her.

          • Jarman Alexander

            Did I just find a writing partner!?

          • Randy Williams

            Hit me up at touchthermo@gmail.com Maybe we can get a shot on AOW?

        • klmn

          Yeah. Make it one Chinese man and an African man to pick up the African market. Make one of them a Muslim too, for the Islamic demographic.

    • Franchise Blueprints

      I felt that way about Olympus has Fallen. The North Koreans were extremely intelligent and resourceful. Once they actually overthrew the white house they became canon fodder for Gerard Butler. I guess they didn’t want to portray an sympathetic or glamorized view of a East Asian country. I think if they gave them the military respect they reserve for Germans in WWII movies it might have grossed higher in those East Asian countries.

      • Randy Williams

        Yes. Every time I see one of those big trash trucks on the road, I can’t not think of that movie. Very clever.

  • Scott Strybos

    After Manhunter and Heat and The insider (and to a slightly, but not that much of a lesser extent, Collateral), I have afforded Mann an unlimited amount of mulligans.

  • Logline_Villain

    I tend to be leery when a virus – whether computer or biological – is a core script element. There’s something about Mary, er, those dangers we can’t see…

    And on the heels of Transcendence, I’m wondering whether scripts/movies that have anything to do with computers/A.I. are too huge a marketing risk going forward.

    That being said, Michael Mann is a great director… so there’s hope.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Are you sure a newsletter went out, as I didn’t get one this time around.

    • klmn

      Same here.

    • Nicholas J

      It’s a newsletter review from last year.

    • Midnight Luck

      No it didn’t.
      He said if he couldn’t get it out, it would have to wait until this Thursday.

      I believe he was referencing an older newsletter, I remember reading this before. Not sure how old it is, or which weeks newsletter.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        He said “the newsletter” making it sound like it was one he just sent out :/

  • Franchise Blueprints
    • Nick Morris

      A lot of “sad Alien” pics out there today.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I’ll still get to the draft of your script you sent me — do we know what he’s doing for Friday?

        • Nick Morris

          I haven’t heard anything, but I didn’t get the newsletter either. Thanks for checking it out, Rick!

  • GYAD

    MIAMI VICE is, undeniably, one of the best films of the last decade.

    You just need to appreciate the mood and to have the base of knowledge necessary to appreciate the detail in it.

    I mean, who else puts the Zo Pounders in a film?

  • Midnight Luck

    So sad

    R.I.P Giger

    ‘Alien’ Artist H.R. Giger Dies at 74

    • Nick Morris

      I never would have guessed that xenomorphs were capable of such sentimentality. :)

  • Midnight Luck

    HEAT
    one of the greatest movies. ever.

    PUBLIC ENEMY
    one of the worst.

    what was up with that jumbled mess?
    I was shocked how bad it looked, how terribly it was put together.

    • ArabyChic

      Awful script, awful direction, awful choice of medium…

  • brenkilco

    Am genuinely leery of hacking thrillers. Tapping away a keyboard is inherently unexciting. And if your IT guys are also the ones chasing bad guys down with guns in foreign lands you’ve got instant credibility problems. The review says it’s adult and requires the audience to think. Never a bad thing. But this somehow becomes a curse. Why? Is the structure too elliptical? Will the logical challenge posed for the protagonists leave slower viewers in the dust. Is the plot not solid and accountable enough to repay our thought and attention? It’s adult but how smart is it? Sort of sounds like the old thriller one two. Terrorist boogymen and lots of chases with some internet security mumbo jumbo and a first act that primes us to expect more and so doubles the dissapointment. I’ll catch it on Netflix.

    • Midnight Luck

      Hacking – IT, etc, it can be done well
      see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

      as long as the Focus isn’t the online / hacking / it stuff

      hacking, etc doesn’t just have to be people on computers sitting in a room.
      there is a ton of anarchy and rebellion built into the core idea of hacking.

      with the right Director (and Mann is probably one of the better suited) the result could be amazing.

      Done incorrectly or poorly, yeah, it will look cheesy (Transcendence) and be terrible.

      • brenkilco

        Well, the internet elements of GWTDT were only a small part of the movie, which I felt along with a lot of others was a fairly ridiculous story with an interesting protagonist. Multi-generational serial killers. Sheesh. And I think the makers were smart enough to keep the computer stuff visual. Lots of old video and photographs. The Mann film sounds like it’s more about cracking code and tracing IP addresses. ZZZZZ

        You’ve touched on another movie pet peeve of mine. One that shows that movie conventions don’t change all that much. Back in the day the writer of a thriller or mystery procedural would run into a problem. He needed to provide his protagonist with a certain piece of info, and either he couldn’t figure a clever way to do it or it wasn’t worth the investment of script time to do it naturally. Thus was born the street informant. The hero would go to a pool hall or a seedy street corner and for a twenty bucks a character who existed just for this purpose would cough up the vital info. Nowadays the informant has gone the way of the model T because as anyone who’s watched a movie thriller in the last twenty years can tell you every piece of information on everyone and everything in the world is only a couple of computer key strokes away. The internet has been an enormous boon to lazy storytelling.

        • Midnight Luck

          Basically, we have created an all new form of

          Deus Ex Machina

          with our 1984 inspired, always connected, all info at our fingertips society.
          So, I believe it has become easier for the writer to be lazy and just drop in the character you are speaking of to get the Protag to where they need to be, to solve the puzzle / crime / whatever, as the 100 minute clock is ticking down.

          Yeah, it bugs me too. The homeless Prophet has always been my big pet peeve. Some blind, moneyless beggar who turns out to be the smartest person in the room, or has that CRITICAL piece of info the Protag needs, or (worst of all) blathers some mostly unintelligible gobbled-gook that makes the Protag reevaluate how they see the world and their place in it, and everything then changes for them based on this piece of wonky advice.

          Seems the surprise character, the back alley info dealer, are a new form of the Homeless Prophet, and the God from the Machine giving all the answers, magically.

          • brenkilco

            My favorite all time character of this sort is Paul Drake. He was the private detective who worked for Perry Mason on the old TV show which is still being shown on cable. At some point in every episode he would wander in and tell Raymond Burr that such and such a character was blind in his right eye, was the silent partner in some business venture and had a 32 inch inseam. Exactly what Burr needed to know to crack the case. Just how did he learn all this stuff. The audience was never told. Hey, he was a PI and that’s what they do.

          • Midnight Luck

            That is funny.
            I never thought about him that way. But you are right. He would just swoop in and hand over whatever evidence was needed so Perry could break the real criminal down while on the stand.
            I used to watch it when I was growing up. Whenever I was sick it would be playing at Noon on a station in our town. I looked forward to being sick so I could catch up on my Perry Mason. But I was a kid and didn’t think about that character being just a crutch. I really liked the actual character as a part though. He was so relaxed and happy, he just made you feel good to watch him. Perry was so serious that Paul Drake was a good opposite to balance it out.

          • MaliboJackk

            The man had street cred.

  • Caroline

    Is “The Harvester” up for AOW this week?

    • Nick Morris

      Not that I know of, but that sure would be awesome! Thanks for your interest, Caroline.

      • Poe_Serling

        The Harvester would make a nice AF bookend to last Friday’s The Devil’s Hammer.

        • Nick Morris

          “The Harvester would make a nice AF bookend to last Friday’s The Devil’s Hammer.”

  • JakeBarnes12

    I was writing this puppy off as “Red Heat” without the exquisite character work.

    Chen, Lien, Barrett, etc., they’re all cyphers. Only the external circumstances are getting some mild conflict going, which is a sure sign you’re in trouble. In contrast, look at something like “48 Hours;” Cates and Reggie would be at each other’s throats whether tracking down a psycho or soaking up the rays in Cancun.

    So things weren’t looking good.

    But then Hathaway gets out of prison around p. 20 and suddenly you can see why Mann’s making this. Kinda.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s still nothing special. But the computer genius also being a tough nut is just enough of a twist on the cliché to inject a tiny amount of freshness into proceedings.

    Some things just work, even the zillionth time out of the gate. And a guy like Hathaway telling the system to go fuck itself, while also being the smartest guy in the room, that’s always going to attract actors to the swagger and audiences to the fantasy that this could be them.

    Given that for me the anemic set-up of the first twenty was a struggle while the standard procedural of the next ten (where I had to stop for unrelated reasons) flew by, suggests 1) I’d want to get Hathaway into the movie well before the twenty-minute mark and 2) the other characters in this draft really do suck.

    Plotwise, it’s pretty tepid stuff. While we’re TOLD the stakes are high, market manipulation causing the price of soybeans to soar, hence destabilizing food prices and causing worldwide rioting, lacks in visual drama and immediacy. And when a “gotcha’ moment revolves around examining partitions on a USB stick, I guess you’re hoping to market the movie as “cerebral.”

    Final thought: Why set up Chen as having studied for years in the US, speaking fluent English, being totally familiar with and uncritical of American culture, etc.? Where’s the drama in that?

    Psst. Michael. it’s not too late. You might want to take some tips from a little movie called “Red Heat.”

    • kenglo

      Hey Jake, you have a copy of this script?

      • JakeBarnes12

        What’s your email, Ken?

        (Won’t be able to check back in to the site for a while but I will get back to you).

    • mulesandmud

      I enjoyed the global techo-economics crash course opening, and the way that hinged into Hathaway and Chen’s intros. It’s a RED HEAT remix, no question, but with decent momentum and some smart details.

      First sign of trouble is when Chen recruits his sister for the mission. Why? Because he can’t trust anyone else? Pretty thin. Shatters the realism of the setup for the sake of a get-your-hands-off-my-sister subplot. Better off not mentioning it at all; just skip the apology and reveal it as a given later.

      Then Chen recognizes Hathaway’s virus – convenient, but fine. Could pay off later somehow (I barely got halfway). Says he needs Hathaway, but knows Hathaway will play hard to get. Hathaway gives the DOJ a hard time, then gets released and gives Chen a brotherly hug outside the prison.

      Logical flaws and wasted opportunities all over the place here. If Chen is buddies with Hathaway and knew he’d play hard to get, why not go in and recruit his friend himself, instead of hiding in the next room while a jackass Fed botches the offer? Or, even better, since their friendship hasn’t come into play almost at all so far, why not put some bad blood between these two, a la Sean Connery and his FBI nemesis in THE ROCK? An incident from the past that points to a fundamental difference in politics, maybe? Something that tells us why Chen took the high road while Hathaway went low? Maybe Chen ratted his own roommate, and now they have to work together. Instaconflict.

      I suspect Foehl and Mann are intentionally trying to dodge the oil-and-water buddy movie formula. Problem is, so far they don’t replace it with anything except for a lot of general busy-ness and a brewing half-ass sister melodrama that begins to bubbles up in a truly bad ‘date scene’ at the Korean restaurant in which the only thing more awkward than the manufactured ‘chemistry’ (crammed between unadulterated Hathaway backstory/flaw/desire exposition dumps) is the pidgin style of Lien’s dialogue (straight out of Rambo II). And why does she sleep with him, exactly?

      On the other hand, I like the way that they avoid the Red Heat stereotype of Chen disapproving of American culture. Sure, it’s easy to have him listen to Kanye, but at least it drives the globalization point home in a fun way. And on the buddy movie note again, if they diffuse the bomb of making Chen a hardliner, then they need to replace it with another. In this case, why not make Hathaway the overt social critic, an anti-American, anti-corporate anarchist? That way he and Chen can still butt heads, only on opposite sides than we expect.

      Overall, this seems poised to continue the streak of dramatically unsatisfying stories that characterize Mann’s post-INSIDER career. Fans of MIAMI VICE should approve.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Yeah, I agree, mules.

        I really don’t get it. This puppy is going to get made either way. Why not do some real character work? We don’t need Chekhov, just something that suggests these are real thinking, feeling human beings with real personal histories that are caught up in these events.

        • mulesandmud

          In all fairness, I did finish this bad boy, and while the script is certainly a fail, the get-your-hands-off-my-sister business that bothered me so much is actually handled quite maturely in the second half, and expressly avoids the kind of idiot-plot melodrama that they seemed to be gearing up for.

          A good reminder: just because you plan to subvert a cliche later in the second half of your story doesn’t mean you get to surf that cliche for the first half. The Hathaway-Lien romance kicks off in such a contrived and perfunctory way that later, when everyone starts acting like grownups, I was too disinterested to appreciate it.

    • rjleah1979

      Does anyone still have this to send?? I have a draft of Drew Goddard’s The Martian to trade??
      Would really appreciate the read.
      Twistednervepictures@gmail.com

  • Midnight Luck

    Death: when it rains it pours
    another sad ending:

    Oscar-winning “Searching for Sugar Man” director Malik Bendjelloul has been found dead. He was 36.

    I believe this movie was one of Carson’s favorites, if not favorite of last year?

    R.i.p. Malik Bendjelloul

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