Genre: Action/Drama/Thriller
Premise: A veteran covert operative seeks redemption for his dark deeds, devoting himself to helping others where injustice has been done.
About: This first draft made a lot of noise in Hollywood for being so amazing for a…well, a first draft! The project has Denzel Washington attached to star (who’s perfect for the role by the way) but took awhile to get its director.  It started with Nicholas Winding Refn hot off his “Drive” success.  But rumors swirled he wasn’t thrilled with the direction they were pushing the project in and bailed.  More directors came and went, including Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt.  The studio finally decided to team up a proven combination, bringing back Denzel’s “Training Day” director, Antoine Fuqua, to do the job.  They’ve also since rewritten the female lead (the waitress) to a younger girl, which Chloe Moretz will play.  I found that to be a strange choice but it looks like they’re going the Taxi Driver route, and since this has the same kind of tone, it shouldn’t affect the script much assuming the part is written well.   I have to admit I’m kinda shocked Wenk wrote this, as he’s the screenwriter of one of my least favorite scripts of last year, The Expendables 2. He also wrote The Mechanic and 16 Blocks. Wenk was born in 1952 in New Jersey and went to NYU.
Writer: Richard Wenk (based on the TV show created by Richard Lindheim)
Details: 106 pages – 1st draft


Something strikes you right away when you open The Equalizer. The writing is so sparse it borders on anorexic. Yet somehow it still contains a ton of information. To me, that’s the essence of great screenwriting. You want to convey a ton of information but you don’t want the reader to have to dig through a mountain of text to get to it. It takes years to perfect that, and still to this day, there are only a few dozen writers who can pull it off. Add Richard Wenk to that list.

I mean here’s his opening scene:


Hits 5:30 AM and goes off.


Grey morning light. Alarm still BUZZING because the room’s empty.

Bed already made. Tight enough to flip a quarter. Room Spartan and immaculate.

(We then cut to the bathroom where we’ll meet our hero)

This miniature scene gives us key information about our main character. It’s 5:30 AM and he’s already up. Not only that, but his bed has been made. Not only that, but it’s “tight enough to flip a quarter” on. The room is also “Spartan” and “immaculate.” Our character clearly has his shit together getting up this early and keeping his room this nice. And with that tightly made bed, it’s a good bet he has a military background. We also get a little visual flair: “Grey morning light,” to give us a better feel for the room. All of this takes an eighth of the page to say. Wow.

So what’s The Equalizer about?

Robert McCall (“Middle aged, middle class, middle of the road looks.”) works at the local Home Depot. He’s one of those guys who keeps to himself, and it isn’t hard to figure out why. This dude’s got a dark history. Except we don’t know what that history is yet. That’ll come up later. In the meantime, we see McCall helping an overweight employee, Ralphie, with his lunch choices. He seems genuinely interested in helping Ralphie kick his unhealthy eating habits.

After work, he goes to his usual diner where he spots his only friend, if you can call the local hooker who offers a few nice words before going to earn her paycheck every night a “friend.” But McCall sees something different in Teri. He knows there’s more going on there and if she can just get out of this profession somehow, she can reach that potential.

Naturally, then, McCall is devastated when he finds out Teri was beat to within an inch of her life by her pimp, a local Russian crime boss who’s got “Don’t Fuck With Me” written all over his face. Unfortunately for him, McCall fucks with those kinds of faces.

To McCall’s credit, he offers a fair deal. 5 grand. To give Teri her freedom forever. But the boss and his half dozen thugs just laugh at McCall. Boy was that a mistake. This is the first moment where we see what McCall is capable of. With unimaginable speed and beauty, he dismantles and kills everyone in the room within 45 seconds.

The next day he sees how happy Teri is to be free of that world and he realizes – for the first time in a long time – the kind of power he wields. There are so many people out there just like Teri who are being used and taken advantage of. There’s nobody out there to stand up for them. Until now that is. McCall has just found his McCalling.

What McCall doesn’t know is that he just wiped out the Russian mafia’s entire east coast team. And that makes the mafia’s CEO, Valdimir Pushkin, very very angry. He wants this McCall taken care of to send a message to any rival families not to fuck with Pushkin’s people. Which naturally means there’s going to be a monster showdown. The Russian mafia’s biggest baddest men versus one man. The only man who can take them on all on his own. The Equalizer!

Holy shit was this a good screenplay. I have so many good things to say about this script, I don’t know where to start. First of all, the dialogue was great! I’ve read so much bad dialogue this week and it’s usually because characters are talking to each other in literal, obvious, on-the-nose, saying-what-I’m feeling, sentences. What’s cool about the dialogue here is that characters talk around things, even though they’re talking about them.

Like how McCall and Teri are talking about the book he’s reading (The Old Man And The Sea) but what they’re really doing is flirting, getting to know each other better, trying to see if the other likes them as much as they like the other.

And speaking of McCall’s reading habits, The Equalizer had this perfect little quirk that McCall is trying to conquer the “100 books you should read before you die” list. Not because it makes his character more interesting. But because his wife died and SHE was doing the list. He’s trying to accomplish what she never could. I just thought that was such an interesting way to get into backstory about one’s wife dying. Usually characters will come out point-blank and say something like, “My wife died six months ago,” and that’s it. It’s so generic that it never registers. We never feel the pain because no specificity has been put into it. Those books were that specificity that made the backstory of his wife dying real.

And then there was the character of McCall himself. He was just so damn likable! Who doesn’t love a guy who goes around evening the score for the people who can’t do it themselves? Hero-likability (or dare I say “loveability”) was hardwired into this script, which made you want to follow McCall through anything.

When he takes down that room of Russians, mark my words, that’ll be one of the coolest crowd-pleasing scenes of the year. Just the moment when he’s about to walk out of the restaurant with the Russians taunting him, and instead of opening the door, he LOCKS IT – that has to be one of the most badass moments ever!

I’ve heard a few people complain that McCall never really encounters any resistance in the script. There’s “no doubt” that he’s going to win every time. What’s strange is that I’ve had this same complaint about a lot of scripts. But it didn’t bother me here for some reason and I don’t know why. I think it’s because I liked McCall so much and I hated all these lowlifes so much, that all I cared about was them getting their due. I didn’t need resistance. I needed him to put them in their place.

This is such a surprising script in that the setup is so generic. I mean, give this to 999 other writers, they would’ve written a generic piece of garbage. But Wenk is that one in a thousand screenwriter who knew what to do with it. This is cream of the crop screenwriting here. I don’t have anything bad to say about the script. Find it if you can and read it now!

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[xx] impressive (Top 10!)
[ ] genius

What I learned: Notice the double dose of likage Wenk hits us with right away to make sure we’ll love McCall. At first, his co-workers make fun of him (we’re always sympathetic towards people who get put down/bullied by others). Then McCall goes to lunch and helps an overweight co-worker stay on his diet (we’re always sympathetic towards people who help others). Remember guys, don’t just make your hero likable.  Make him double-likable.

  • laguy1010

    I liked the script, but the locking the door moment was stolen from a Bronx Tale.

    • Wes Mantooth

      “Now you’se can’t leave.”

    • filmklassik

      I mentioned its use in the song “Coward of the County” down below… but it was also used in a 1981 TV Movie ADAPTED from the song.

      Someone posted the whole film on Youtube. The “locking the door” moment occurs at the 1:24:00 mark.

  • filmklassik

    “I’ve heard a few people complain that McCall never really encounters any resistance in the script.”

    Yeah, I’m one of them, Carson. This decision, for me, diluted the tension to near non-existent levels.

    “There’s no doubt that he’s going to win every time. What’s strange is that I’ve had this same complaint about a lot of scripts. But it didn’t bother me here for some reason and I don’t know why.”

    Me either, Carson. But what’s disturbing is there seems to be an appetite for this kind of storytelling right now — for heroes who display plenty of existential anguish (I’m talking to you, Jason Bourne) but who have little or no problem taking out any and all bad guys in a fight fairly handily.

    I guess I just miss the overmatched hero. You know, James Bond vs. Oddjob. Rocky vs. Apollo. Ah-nold vs. the T-1000. Etc. Heroes who were tough — incredibly tough — but who in Act 3 had to struggle for the win.

    Now we have Jason Bourne (“Why — WHY — am I so badass?! Whyyyyy!!”) or the current reconception of The Equalizer or — in 17 extremely popular novels by Lee Child — the 6 foot five inch wall of muscle Jack Reacher.

    I love your website, Carson, and most of your insights (you’re a very bright guy), but you and I strongly disagree here.

    • Matthew Garry

      I’m inclined to agree. There’s simply no real struggle present, and action without struggle is just melodrama for men.

      And speaking of melodrama:
      The fat kid with a dream who helps out his poor parents in a restaurant being oppressed by crooked cops?
      The talented prostitute with a heart of gold who’s being oppressed by standard russian mobsters ?

      It all sounds a little empty and thin to me.

      On the other hand, it’s already being made so there’s nothing to be done but wait and hope audiences will reject it so the industry will hopefully steer away from Supermen without a Cryptonite concepts. And if not, well, at least we’ll know and can take it into account when reading or writing.

      I don’t like it, but then again, I don’t have to. It’s simply the way things work.

    • Nate

      In regards to Jason Bourne he does actually struggle when fighting someone. Maybe not in the first two movies but in Ultimatum he certainly does. He almost gets his arse handed to him by an assassin in the small apartment halfway through the movie.
      I see what you’re saying though. A lot of badass protagonists do have it easy.

    • fragglewriter

      I hated Jason Bourne movies because he never went the wrong way, no matter the building, door or window and everything was too easy. I love the action movies from years ago when the hero was beaten, bruised, tormented until the 3rd act where he uses his last bit of strength or intellect and gets the upper hand on the villain.

      • filmklassik

        “I love the action movies from years ago when the hero was beaten, bruised, tormented until the 3rd act where he uses his last bit of strength or intellect and gets the upper hand on the villain.”

        Yeah, me too, frag, and I really miss them. But, more than that, I’m baffled as to why so many other people DON’T. I mean, isn’t a a nail-biter more exciting than a rout? Isn’t the extra-innings Grand Slam that wins the game with a score of 8-7 more exciting than a 26-0 blow out?

        I sure as hell think so. But the Invincible Hero has clearly struck a nerve with audiences lately (he’s been showing up way too much for us to write it off as mere coincidence)…but I’m goddamned if I know why.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          “Isn’t the extra-innings Grand Slam that wins the game with a score of 8-7 more exciting than a 26-0 blow out?”

          Not if you are in awe about how those 26 points where scored.

          • filmklassik

            Understood, Panos. And many, many people obviously agree with you as this was one of the best-received scripts of the last two years.

        • fragglewriter

          I don’t know if it has to do with the star power of the protagonist (Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, etc) or struggle has been replaced by cool gadgets or fight scenes).

          I’m writing a crime drama now, and yes, nothing is easy for my pro tag. In fact, everything goes so not as planned, that in the 3rd act, he does something that expected for someone in his position but that he despises as a person.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            The hero in this script is not a rule. It’s just a different kind of hero, executed to the ‘T’ (like Bourne).

            The kind of battles your hero goes against reminds me of Sandra Bullock’s character in Gravity. I LOVED Gravity and I LOVE this script.

            But it’s not either this or that. It’s understanding who your hero is, how they act, what’s the thing that makes them SPECIAL and executing a story with this kind of hero perfectly.

          • fragglewriter

            True, and my different kind of hero is the “anti-hero.”

            I just hate that everything is too easy and nice to get seats in the theatre that doesn’t satisfy the majority of the audience.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            You might be missing the point. Why the reason this script sold and why it got Denzel in it. It’s the HOW the hero wins every battle.

            If you think that’s easy, then by all means, do it and invite me over to your Hollywood Hills villa for margaritas.

          • fragglewriter

            I didn’t miss the point. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the struggle that makes you a better person.

            Can we do mojitos instead of margaritas?

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            By missing the point, is pinpointing WHY that script SOLD. I think finding the ingredients that made this script a hot sale is what’s most important to us amateurs.

            I actually prefer mojitos to margaritas. :)

          • fragglewriter

            I understand as amateurs, looking at the ingredients so that we can understand why it sold is most important, because that is what I do. But reheating steak that has been the fridge for the last 10 years, that’s not a good idea.

            Mojitos here we come :-)

        • Citizen M

          What about Superman? He is all-powerful. The point of the story then becomes the wise use of the powers, not the actual fight. Which is what happens in The Equalizer.

          • filmklassik

            “What about Superman? He is all-powerful.”

            Which, I’m guessing, is why they invented Kryptonite.

          • Guest

            Superman isnt even human, we know this, we know his strengths and his weakness and all he’s capable of. with mccall, we just know, no matter what the situation, he’s going to kick ass. we dont know why, we just know we’ve seen it already. mccall kicks ass and wins, no known weaknesses, we can surely put our faith in him, like fucking

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            And what makes want to see is the HOW he kicks ass. That’s the money in this script.

          • Guest

            so that’s it then, cheap thrills, well there ya go.
            Some people want a little more though. I like butter on my toast

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            It’s ‘thrills’ all right. Not with you about the ‘cheap’ though.

            I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. Though, there’s one thing that’s a fact. It sold and got Denzel in it.

            So, as someone who would like to sell a script some day, I find that thrilling.

          • Guest

            I would use only the writing as an example
            not the concept or the story or the deadlier-than-all-mine-enemies protagonist.
            The writer was already in the mix, I’m a complete outsider. Writers in the mix can get away with certain things on spec that an outsider can’t — like Fast and Furious

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            I’m with you on taking the things you liked from a script; and the writing in this script is one thing I also loved.

            I always try though not to justify a sale because of connections or other factors besides the writing. These things do happen, but in my opinion, this kind of advantages were not the reasons for the sale of the Equalizer.

          • Guest

            Those recycled thrills lose their freshness by the 109th movie I’ve seen them in. The thrills offered by this movie already went stale for me. It’s like bad milk. Only salvaged by technical soundness on paper, not so for the screen

  • themovienerd

    Is this a well written screenplay? Yes. Yes it is. No doubt about that. Will it make for a fun movie? Sure (barring they don’t change it too much).

    Is this one of the best screenplays to be written since The Dogs of Babel? I guess you think so…

    But, I’m just not so sure this is the best screenplay I’ve read in the past few years (setting Desperate Hours aside in which I am in 100% alignment with you on).

    The Equalizer is enjoyable. But it was also … so derivative. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree Wenk hit this premise out of the park, I just don’t think this premise is a major league idea anymore. It is SO overdone. It is SO unoriginal. It’s why I voted for Rigged over you know … that-Jason-Bourne-knock-off-whose-one-word-name-I-can’t-even-remember from AOW a couple weeks ago. Because it was as unoriginal. Because the bad-ass protag who cake walks through a movie, even with a really fantastic back story, is so overplayed and we just don’t need another.

    It’s a great read written by a really great writer. But as a lover of great .. god I hate this word in this context but … film and unique movie-going experiences, this whole bad-ass-somehow-related-to-the-government-but-disnefranchised-from-it protag is impossible for me to get impassioned about anymore. I get it sells internationally. I get the domestic audience is still mostly there. But I’m just not on this ship anymore… And I can only hope I’m not wrong that it is a sinking ship to some degree because I can’t. I just can’t.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      I get what you’re saying about this script not being genius. It’s not. It’s an action movie executed perfectly.

      It won’t bring a screenwriting or cinematic revolution, but, to me, it’s where the bar is set for writing action screenplays. We should only aim higher than this if we want to achieve something in this business.

      • filmklassik

        Panos when you say this script is “executed perfectly” are you referring to the author’s writing style… the twists and turns of the screenplay’s narrative… or both? Because if it’s the former than I would agree with you (mostly): Wenk is, line for line and page for page, a very good writer. But if it’s the latter then I couldn’t disagree more.

        The omniscience and near-invulnerability of the story’s hero made for a screenplay that was lacking in tension and, finally, in any sort of narrative interest — at least for me.

        Basically it was BAMBI VS. GODZILLA, with McCall as Godzilla.

        But a lot of people didn’t mind that.

        • andyjaxfl

          @filmklassik, I agree. There needs to be tension in every scene, and fight scenes are no exception.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          I honestly didn’t mind. I loved both the lean, spartan writing and the scenes. I especially loved that cool bait and switch where we think that the husband is the man in charge but it’s actually his wife the person McCall went to see.

          To me the big question is: Would I put my money to produce this movie (if I had, that is)? Hell, yes.

        • fragglewriter

          Love the analogy Bambi vs Godzilla.

          I didn’t like the script, but I only read maybe the first 40 pages. Everything seemed too nice, slow, and been there done that.

          I understand why the writer chooses to be safe as something too original may not be well received until he has been done before and proven to be successful.

    • JW

      I’m gonna argue you’re dead-on in terms of marketing. And, a timely post considering the release of the latest installment of Jack Ryan, which bombed at the box office (#4) with about $15m. I think audiences are feeling your pain about this genre and unless someone breathes new life into it in a new way it’s not going to pop. It’s sort of sad to see Costner out there attempting to attach himself to a genre like this and I would say it almost signals the beginning of the end for it (if not the solidification). Unless the franchise is there or you have a dominant A-lister who signs on, as they love to say in Jersey, forgettaboutit!

    • ChrisRyden

      “It’s why I voted for Rigged over you know … that-Jason-Bourne-knock-off-whose-one-word-name-I-can’t-even-remember from AOW a couple weeks ago. Because it was as unoriginal.” It was called SAFEGUARD. Appreciate the kind words. Cheers.

      • John Bradley

        Hey Chris, you have a lot of great things going on with Safegaurd, between doing so well in the contests to having the people who worked on the newest Batman help you develope it. As far as I’m concerned you are on the right path. It’s one thing for someone to critique your work with tact and insult it. Just know as a writer you will always have critics and try not to let it get under your skin=)

      • themovienerd

        Hey. Sorry. It was more to prove a point. Because, yeah, I could’ve looked it up.

        And just to be clear, the point I made in the above post is the exact same point I made in my AOW post for voting for Rigged over Safeguard. I said then your screenplay was the best written of the bunch. No doubt about that. It was simply the premise that I found to be lacking in uber-originality. Your talent as a writer, however, shined through the same way the talent of Wenk shined (shone?) through here. And you’re clearly getting the appropriate accolades and your career is moving forward as such.

        These premises just aren’t for me.

      • TruckDweller

        Upvoting because I agree The Equalizer’s concept is completely overdone. Now having a sample that shows you can write well in an existing drama is worthwhile and can get you a lot of work. It does make it harder for people that aren’t agents and managers to get excited over, though so keep that in mind while moving forward. But don’t worry – there’s just as much pushback when creating something original.

    • Ken

      You realize that this script is an adaptation of the TV show The Equalizer, right? How was this going to be a ‘unique movie-going experience’?

      • themovienerd

        I fail to see the correlation you’re trying to draw. Do you mean to imply that feature scripts adapting television shows can never make for unique movie-going experiences?

        If so, I would counter with the Original Star Trek franchise making for rather unique movie going experiences that were, for my money, better than the series. And from whose popularity, more than the original tv show, exploded The Next Generation and every ST series since.

  • jridge32

    Once you get past this being a pretty standard-issue “The Brave One” meets “Taken” meets “Death Wish” and a gazillion other vigilante movies movie – not to mention the mid-80’s t.v. show the script is based on: which is to say guy no one sees coming, dishing out his own special brand of street justice on every motherf-er in sight who even thinks about doing wrong to the non-wrong deserving. And that the first 20 pages are the main character going to work, going to a diner, then home. Then reading. Then back to work. Is “The Equilizer” good? Mostly.

    McCall is a middle-aged Home Depot employee who enjoys his innocuous, partially hydrogenated-free existence. He’s amiable; takes a lot of senior citizen jokes in stride. Likes his books, and keeping a clean home. And he really, REALLY enjoys, more than anything, kicking ungodly amounts of ass in the name of helping the helpless. An overweight co-worker jockeying for management, needs to drop a few. Hooker with a heart of.. well, you know; stuck with an abusive pimp. A friend’s family’s business hurt by corrupt cops.

    Man oh man does a bunch of crime just START HAPPENING in McCall’s field of gravity. Soon, he’s getting all up in everyone’s business. Offering second chances. He’s quick, too. Calculates the scene in seconds, knowing almost exactly how long it’ll be before he has multiple opponents dispatched. The action scenes in “Equilizer” are brisk and exciting. I know words like, “There’s nothing you can do to prevent any of this. I’m not like anyone you’ve dealt with,” are very… on the nose. But they got my adrenaline going.

    Of course, the script can’t simply be McCall with his checklist of criminals. So we get some backstory – former special ops (or, black ops… not that I know the difference); has a history of violence to draw from (no wonder he’s so damn good at killing people) – along with a main villain, Teddy, CIA agent with ties to Russians involved in sex trafficking. “You took out Pushkin’s East Coast team. Your CIA friends were paid to protect that from happening. Now they’re looking for blood. (beat) More tea?” Nice.

    The dialogue tends toward similar cadences:

    “Sounds good. Haven’t had dinner yet.”…
    “Paid cash for my meal. Didn’t have a reservation.”…
    “Feeling okay?” – “Still a little freaked out”…
    “Stopped counting the reasons I married that woman”

    The prose, too:
    Employees leaving for the night. McCall one of them…
    McCall with a frustrated Homeowner. Guy has a Home Depot bag open.

    It’s either tight, crisp writing, or redundant. Or both. It sorta bugged me, but not enough to give up early.

    Entertaining read. I’m sure Denzel will own this.

  • Randy Williams

    Something about this was so familiar! You wrote on this same script in 2012 but didn’t totally review it but did mention in your “what I learned” blurb about the character reading his wife’s “to read list of books” and noted it was a great way to add back story and character depth. You were asked not to review it yet at that time and kept your promise for two years. Good man!

    • kenglo

      OH…THAT’S where I saw it!! I thought he had reviewed this before, thought I was experiencing deja vu’….another Denzel vehicle!! LOL.

      I love the way the script was written, one of my favorites EVER. And not to argue with grendl (who in the heck would even think of doing that???), but the fact you stated what he was reading Quixote as subtext as to who he was gives ‘some’ noteworthy insight as to how to write and create subtext, does it not? There was a scene where he stops by a friend’s house, a man and his wife. They have dinner, shoot the shit, and then the MAN excuses himself so the WIFE can talk business. Never seen that before.

      As far as it being ‘contrived’….I dunno, it read well, fast, easy. It was a great written story, may not be a great movie, but with Denzel, it will make its 60-90 mil probably.

      Just sayin’.

  • Greg

    I’d love to read it if someone could please send it to me:


  • filmklassik

    Come on, guys. We’ve see that badass “locking the door” moment before. Hell, it was done in a Kenny Rogers song almost 35 years ago. (“Coward of the County”; no kidding, folks, look up the lyrics).

    But, more importantly, the scene in Wenk’s EQUALIZER that Carson describes this way —

    “To McCall’s credit, he offers a fair deal. 5 grand. To give Teri her freedom forever. But the boss and his half dozen thugs just laugh at McCall. Boy was that a mistake. This is the first moment where we see what McCall is capable of. With unimaginable speed and beauty, he dismantles and kills everyone in the room within 45 seconds.”

    — was, I am convinced, heavily influenced by a very (and I mean VERY) similar scene in the William Goldman novel “Heat” — in a dazzling chapter called “Eighteen Seconds” whose action Goldman adapted for a scene in the awful Burt Reynolds movie version.

    I suspect this same scene will be included in the upcoming remake, too… also scripted by Goldman… which stars Jason Statham and is scheduled to come out later this year (around the same time as THE EQUALIZER, oddly enough).

    • davejc

      “Come on, guys. We’ve see that badass “locking the door” moment before.”

      Yeah, it was even in Homer’s The Odyssey. At least 3000 years ago it was kinda original.

      • Calvin Miner

        Superb reference.

      • Linkthis83

        Yeah, but who did Homer steal it from? ;)

        • Malibo Jackk

          I think I saw something similar
          scrawled on a cave wall.

          • davejc

            I have a confession: The “locking the doors” is in my screenplay. LOL! But at least I added a twist :)

          • Linkthis83

            I assumed he updated it from rolling the boulder in front of the cave entrance.

          • Malibo Jackk

            I think you’re thinking of the Bible.

          • Linkthis83

            The bible took place after this, didn’t it?

          • Citizen M

            A trick they got from the dinosaur walking into the cave and blocking the entrance with its tail.

  • Poe_Serling

    Carson reviewed this script about two years ago… then had to pull it for one reason or another. I went back to check out some of the comments and discovered that I actually read the script. Here’s the funny thing: I don’t recall cracking open the pdf file for it! And yes, I’m still deciding if that’s a good thing or not. ;-)

    Here were a few of my thoughts from back in 2012:

    Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer. To be perfectly honest, I’ve only seen a handful of reruns of this show. Even then, the main attraction of watching it was to see Edward Woodward in action. Sorta the epitome of tough-guy elegance.

    For me, Woodward’s most memorable role was the uptight police sergeant Neil Howie in original The Wicker Man. One magazine has even called the film “the Citizen Kane of Horror movies.”

    And this script? A solid thriller/action story. Fans of the TV show and Denzel won’t be disappointed.

    What really impressed from a format/style standpoint was its readability. It could be a template for the often used term in scriptwriting of creating “white space” in your script. Plus, the writer did an amazing job of keeping the reader’s eyes moving down the page at a breakneck pace.

    I give this project high marks for covering all three of the ‘C’ bases – Clean. Crisp. Concise. – without any of the cluttery waste often found in many amateur scripts.

    • RO

      I was wondering why this article felt so familiar.

    • filmklassik

      “…the writer did an amazing job of keeping the reader’s eyes moving down the page at a breakneck pace.”

      That I’ll grant you, Poe. Wenk has a highly readable prose style.

      “I give this project high marks for covering all three of the ‘C’ bases – Clean. Crisp. Concise. – without any of the cluttery waste often found in many amateur scripts.”

      Also true. I just wish that the story itself was more compelling. It wasn’t — not to me, anyway — for reasons I have gone into ad nauseum on this page.

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey filmklassik-

        ‘I just wish that the story itself was more compelling.’

        I totally agree. The script’s storyline isn’t going to set the cinematic world on fire.

        And I’m pretty sure the TV series The Equalizer wasn’t anything new to the tube either. But I do think having Edward Woodward in the lead role did elevate the show above a lot of the standard fare on television at that time.

        Perhaps Denzel can add the same spark to this film project. I guess we’ll find out this September. ;-)

        • filmklassik

          I love Denzel, too. He has made great movies, good movies, and bad movies… but he himself is always wonderful.

          And the TV show was actually pretty good. But you’re right, Poe, it wasn’t anything new. In fact there was a fine, exciting (and unexpectedly literate) western series in the 1950s called HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL that could fairly be summarized as “The Equalizer Goes West.”

          • Poe_Serling

            I’m familiar with the series Have Gun – Will Travel, but I don’t remember ever catching an episode.

            As of late, I’ve been sampling some of the old Western shows that are currently playing on the cable channels’ METV and Antenna TV – namely The Rifleman, The Rebel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Big Valley, and so on.

            Based on your recommendation, I will definitely check out a show or two of the Richard Boone series.

          • kenglo

            Poe/filmlassik – did Bruce Lee ever have problems kicking ass? Just wondering. Aside from the scars in Enter the Dragon, Lee got hit twice in the whole film. His theory on film heroes was that if he struggled with the help, the main guy would look less menacing. Me personally, I don’t have problems where the ‘hero’ just kicks ass. Why is that a problem? People can’t relate to that? The general audience will tune out because of this? Is it because the ‘hero’ is put into situations that seem difficult for him that makes us want to follow him? When we already know he is going to succeed? Is that why UFC and MMA are so easy to watch for the mainstream yahoos who don’t know how to fight? Because people aspire to be bad ass, but don’t want to watch a bad ass who is totally bad ass and doesn’t struggle? Maybe the problem for the story of Equalizer is getting a badder ass villain? Hmmm….I’m just thinking out loud

          • Poe_Serling

            Hey kenglo

            “Maybe the problem for the story of Equalizer is getting a badder ass villain.”

            Good point.

            And Enter the Dragon is always a blast to watch when it turns up on TV.

          • kenglo

            Bruce is the MAN!! Ultimate equalizer!

    • gazrow

      “For me, Woodward’s most memorable role was the uptight police sergeant Neil Howie in original The Wicker Man. One magazine has even called the film “the Citizen Kane of Horror movies.”

      I concur, sir!

      I remember Woodward giving an interview about how he was overweight and out of shape, but otherwise in good health, when he landed the role in The Equalizer, so the studio assigned him a personal trainer and made him shape up for the part.

      He got into the best shape of his life and then went and had a heart attack! Go figure! Fortunately, he was able to laugh about it later! :)

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey G-

        Just curious – did you ever have the opportunity to see any reruns of Woodward’s British TV show Callan or the ’74 film feature based on the series? The TV show aired from the late ’60s to early ’70s.

        I always felt the the show’s opening credits were simple but yet did a great job in setting the mood of the series.

        • gazrow

          Never caught it. But I remember my Dad talking about it a few years later (when The Equalizer TV series was aired) – he was a big fan of both shows.

          Agree about the opening credits – simple but effective! :)

  • John Bradley

    Hey Carson, I was doing some screenwriting book shopping and was wondering if there was anything in the works to get yours out in paperback?

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      I honestly don’t get why a lot of people wait years for a book they want to buy just because they don’t want to read it on a device. Sorry, I just don’t.

      • andyjaxfl

        Not everyone likes reading on a device, including myself.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          Okay. I can get behind that, but if I REALLY wanted to read a book, I’d read it on my computer screen. That’s what I find odd about those that really really want to get the book, but they don’t like reading it on a computer or a tablet or a smartphone.

      • John Bradley

        I just prefer having a physical copy of books=) I apologize to anyone this May have upset.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          John, no one’s upset and there’s nothing to apologize about. I just don’t get it.

          For example, I LOVE ebooks, but if I can’t find a book that I really want to read in a digital form, I’ll buy a physical copy. That’s what I find weird about some of the people here keep asking for YEARS now for a physical copy of Carson’s book.

          Anyway, cheers.

  • carsonreeves1

    Yes, updated the About section.

  • Alexander Felix

    I thought this was a fantastic script. Definitely deserves praise. Great review, Carson.

  • FD

    In addition to the locked door and other similarities that seem to be borrowed from other films, it struck me as being very similar to Viggo Mortensen’s “A History of Violence” as well. I’m sure it will be a great film, but I’m not so sure a script with so many “similarities” to past films should be top 10.

    • filmklassik

      “I’m sure it will be a great film.”

      I’m not. I think the whole “McCall-shooting-fish-in-a-barrel” aspect is going to seem more glaring onscreen than it did on the page (where the author’s style could conceal a multitude of sins) and thus the film will necessarily lack tension — and therefore interest.

      Unless people really ARE

      • fd

        You may well be right. When the Russian mafia thugs fall like zombies, they lose their cred. Once we find out that our bum is a secret WMD, the rest of the film is just a how and not a whether, which definitely detracts from its tension.
        For me this was a “seen it all before” ranking, so I won’t be in the cinema for it, but there have been films in the past that were good, despite being rehashes.
        Mr. Washington has bills to pay, I guess, and they can’t all be Training Day.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I didn’t read many scripts in 2013, but this was my favorite.

    I think the reason we don’t care that McCall doesn’t encounter too much resistance is because of the way he manages to win every battle. There’s so much ingenuity in the way he beats everyone. It’s like using his strength in a McGuiver-ish way.

    Oh, and Denzel is going to kill it.

  • filmklassik

    Carson, one final point…I am trying to reconcile THIS observation you made about “The Equalizer”…

    “What I learned: Notice the double dose of likage Wenk hits us with right away to make sure we’ll love McCall. At first, his co-workers make fun of him (we’re always sympathetic towards people who get put down/bullied by others).”

    — with THIS ONE you made about “Captain Phillips”…

    “Another problem was that Captain Phillips appeared to be this grating guy that nobody liked. His son hates him. No one on his crew likes him. They actually constantly make fun of him behind his back. And because everyone thought he was a loser, I began to think he was a loser. The impression I got was that he was one of those annoying people in life that everyone just deals with. Not exactly Bruce Willis in Die Hard.”

    Somewhat contradictory, no?

    • Awescillot

      I haven’t read the Equalizer, so I wouldn’t know exactly when what was introduced in the storyline, but here are my thoughts:

      McCall was bullied so he can be regarded a loser by people, but he had already shown to be this good guy by wanting the best for Teri.

      Cpt. Phillips appeared to be a ‘loser’ as well, but they didn’t write in a Save the Cat moment as a counterbalance. We didn’t see anything that might make him likeable at first glance, because there’s only this impression of him being a loser, without anything else to make us think otherwise.

      So maybe the Save the Hooker moment immediately gave McCall some more depth to his character?

      • filmklassik

        Hmm. It’s possible, I suppose, but my memory is that McCall was being jeered at by his co-workers even before he ever met Teri.

        Regardless, I actually (and respectfully) reject the idea that someone who is being made fun of by others must automatically be considered a “loser,” even without a so-called Save the Cat moment to “redeem” him.

        Sorry, but that notion just smacks of 9th grade, homeroom values, and if that’s where movies are today, well, that just strikes me as incredibly immature.

        Does Charlie Brown require a Save the Cat moment?

        Besides, what’s the difference between being a “loser” and being an “underdog” anyway?

        • Awescillot

          Yeah you’re right. ‘Loser’ is an easy term to throw around.

          I think it depends on the state of mind of the one using the term. Bullies use it to debase someone, and when other people agree someone is indeed just a ‘plain loser’, they enter that mindset.
          People who can empathize with the person being called a loser (or his set-back, his struggle), consider him an underdog. Both a loser and underdog have their struggles and are both kicking up against some repressive force, but it all depends on how the situation is presented I guess.

          For example, a protagonist who is a violent drunk and beats his wife. A first impression could be that he’s a loser for doing something like that. You wouldn’t exactly think he’s an underdog. We would consider him a loser because we despise his actions, He’s weak in our opinions because he abuses his dominant position (being stronger than his wife). But what if the guy drank, because of some dramatic event, because he himself is being bullied and coping with it in a destructive way. Then we might consider him an underdog in that particular situation, fighting against the ones who act violently towards him. We put the things he does to his wife in a different context. His violent behaviour is the last chain in a causal reaction. Even though we don’t agree with what he’s doing, now we don’t just think of him as a loser but both him and his wife as a victim of the same greater thing.

          This is not a waterproof example, but I do think it’s a matter of perspective. Wouldn’t you think?

          • filmklassik

            I do. Very well said.

  • andyjaxfl

    I read this about a year ago and lost interest after 40 pages because we’ve seen it all a thousand times before. McCall is a killing machine, but there’s nothing dramatic about a guy who walks into a room and has a plan to kill everyone and executes it without a hitch time and time again.

    Drama is conflict, whether its physical or emotional, and here there is no drama to the two fight scenes I read before calling it a day. McCall shows up, sizes up the situation, and kills everyone in the blink of an eye without breaking a sweat.

    In the Disciple Program, the main character’s escapes and kills are hard earned, as are John McClane’s in Die Hard. They take a physical toll on his body beyond bruised knuckles. Maybe all of this changes in The Equalizer after what I’ve read, but judging from the comments I’ve read so far it does not

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      In my opinion, the Disciple Program is kindergarten compared to the Equalizer. That’s why the first one has Wahlberg while the other one has Denzel. It’s not random.

      *makes pop corn. waits for the replies about why Denzel is in it. *

      • andyjaxfl

        Marky Mark and Denzel movies make a ton of money, even when they work together. That’s why he’s in it (if/when it gets made) and not Aaron Eckhart, and that’s why Denzel is in The Equalizer and not Gary Oldman.

        But Denzel’s association with a movie doesn’t automatically mean it’s good or better than anything else that’s coming out. He’s been in his share of shitty movies in the last decade, as has Marky Mark.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          Did you just put Denzel and Wahlberg in the same league??

          • andyjaxfl

            According to Box Office Mojo, the average Denzel movie grosses $50 million at domestic box office. The average Marky Mark movie grosses $62 million at the domestic box office. Adjusting for inflation, Denzel averages $73 million domestic per movie; Marky Mark averages $79 million. Average Meta Critic: Denzel at 61 and Marky Mark at 56.

            Box office numbers (which are the only numbers that matter because number of Academy Award wins/nominations mean jack shit in the grande scheme of things) strongly indicate they are very much in the same league.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            You got me there! Never thought this would be the case.

          • andyjaxfl

            Me too, man. I was pretty surprised as I read those.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Well, heck, since we’re stuck with a rerun, here’s an encore presentation of my notes on “The Equalizer.”

    It’s very well written, totally professional. But it doesn’t have an ounce of originality. It’s not the same, but different. It’s just the same. I guess that’s the difference between a spec script and a studio-written script.

    There was exactly one clever moment. Late in the script, McCall goes to see his old CIA handler. Eats with the husband and wife, the wife brings coffee, clears things away.

    Then she stays and the husband takes off. She’s the handler.

    That was the one surprise in the script.

    Everything else was the usual super soldier wish fulfillment fantasy. The guy whose performance is “off the charts.” The guy who can just disappear. The guy who’s always in just the right place. The guy who can take out five thugs in forty-nine seconds.

    McCall’s supposed to be “old,” but unlike, say, Bond in the new movie, we never see him struggle. The guy’s supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of the violent things he’s done, but he kills without hesitation.

    We never see McCall sweat. He’s basically superhuman. Also, unlike the superhuman in Taken, the emotional stakes are much lower. There’s something more visceral about killing bad guys to protect your own daughter vs. protecting tub o’ lard Ralphie.

    That said, this’ll make a nice competent little action flick, and I know Denzel will bring his usual intensity to the role.

    But would it have killed the writer to try something just a little fresher?

    • filmklassik

      Yup. I agree. The moment we learn the handler is the wife and not the husband is the only bona fide surprise in the whole screenplay, yet it has no bearing — nada — on the story itself.

      It’s like that lame fake-out (overdone n the 70s) where the dude comes roaring up on his chopper, removes his helmet, shakes his head a little, and — WTF! — the dude is really a dudette!!

      It’s just a fun little moment where you go, “Hey now!” but that’s about all.

      It doesn’t subvert, or spin, or affect our understanding of the narrative in the least.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Yeah, good point, filmklassik. Absolutely true.

        Even one surprising plot twist would have elevated the material a little.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      It’s not about a guy who’s a super soldier. It’s about a soldier who is super smart.

      As Carson wrote somewhere in his book, the audience loves when the hero wins by using his brains, and in this script, McCall is almost always using his brain to kill them, except that scene where he goes to pay for the girl’s freedom. But I bet that scene is going to be one cool, motherfucking trailer scene that will sell tickets.

      For anyone who wants to write and SELL action, this is where the bar is set.

  • I HateMondays

    Why does Denzel look like he was just taken out the refrigerator in this pic?
    Like chilled hot chococlate

  • witwoud

    It’s easy to write a badass hero: just think what YOU would do in any given situation, and have him do the EXACT opposite.

    Me, I’d smack that alarm clock and grab another three hours. I’d turn up late for work, mock the fat kid under my breath, and do a half-assed job all day. I’d stay the hell away from the kooky girl at the cafe. And if it came down to me vs a room full of Russian mobsters, I know which side of the door I’d be on before I locked it.

    Yup, I’d make a lousy hero. But my own wimpish instincts are an excellent guide to how a real hero would behave in the same circumstances, being the exact opposite. When it comes to writing heroes I follow the advice of screenwriting gurus and ask myself ‘What would *I* do in these circumstances?’ — and then reverse it.

  • Alex Palmer

    Really liked this. Imagine Black Dynamite, played straight.

  • mulesandmud

    Just started reading this (many thanks to the generous givers). A few observations from the first thirty pages…

    1. Writer has a professional command of language. On top of the general leanness and clarity, he occasionally finds new ways to describe things we’ve seen before. Example: script sets up that one Russian has a dragon tattoo on his neck, then later McCall kills him with a piece of glass “…the jagged edge hisses through the first man’s neck – slaying the dragon – an opera of blood enters the air…” Not just a fun punchy way to describe a kill, but also a reference to Don Quixote, which McCall has just started reading.

    2. Beat-up hookers. Russian mobsters. I won’t say it’s impossible to make these tired tropes interesting (Eastern Promises did better), but this story isn’t even trying for a fresh angle, just recycling, hoping no one minds because they’ll all be dead by Act Two.

    3. In most ways, this is a dream draft for a studio executive. Delivers on the premise without rocking the boat. Good for a writer’s career, great for the movie’s chances of getting green-lit. Not so great for the movie’s prospects of being memorable. Case in point…

    4. No matter how badass McCall is in the scene where he cleans house in the Russian restaurant, this scene has an uphill battle to distinguish itself on screen because every single element of it is well-worn. The setting, the hero, the villains, the plot point, the dialogue – it’s all familiar. Carson says “mark my words, that’ll be one of the coolest crowd-pleasing scenes of the year”. Not likely, though it will probably be the best of the other five identical Russian gangster fight scenes from other movies of that year.

    5. One very specific gripe: after McCall stomps Teri’s pimp, Teri shows up and thanks him, though there’s no way she could know what he’s done. “She just knows”, the action line tells us. It’s a cheap use of an action line and a shameless grab at audience satisfaction, Even if it’s a setup for something later, it’s a boring choice, since the fun of McCall’s character is that his good deed was thankless and perfectly anonymous.

    I’ll keep reading out of professional curiosity, but harbor few hopes that this script will deliver anything more than it already has.

    • kenglo

      “5. One very specific gripe: after McCall stomps Teri’s pimp, Teri shows
      up and thanks him, though there’s no way she could know what he’s done.
      “She just knows”, the action line tells us. It’s a cheap use of an
      action line and a shameless grab at audience satisfaction”

      What other choice would you have done? Just curious….

      • mulesandmud

        It’s much more fun if Teri doesn’t suspect that McCall had anything to do with helping her in that scene. Why would she? Use that dramatic irony, don’t squander it for a false moment of connection between two characters. Instead of making it a beat about gratitude – which McCall doesn’t need, he’s totally comfortable with himself – make it a beat about Teri’s fresh start and McCall getting away clean.

        The fact that Teri “just knows” never comes back in any way. In fact, the writer KNOWS that things are more fun if she doesn’t know, because later, when Hitmen go to kill Teri, McCall takes care of them outside of her apartment without Teri ever noticing. Unfortunately, at that point it feels like the script is backtracking, because it has given us a ‘Teri just knows’ beat sixty pages BEFORE the beat where Teri is none the wiser. Sloppy.

        • kenglo

          Ah…I see….good points. Thanks!

  • Olyphantastic

    Your computer is a device, that’s why you can download Kindle to your pc from amazon. If you are on the internet you got a device, probably even to your phone. I guess I could see the problem if you where surfing internet on your xbox or tv.

  • tobban

    Liked the script and will see the movie. ( liked it, didn’t love it, seen it before )
    If Denzel is in it, I will pay for a ticket. Big fan of his. And he seems to pick his movies with great care. Plus, he can play anybody from gangster to poet.

  • Jovan Jevtic

    Please, let’s praise another script where a tough guy tries to save an innocent girl. And to make him likeable why don’t we throw some bullies his way, see how he deals with them. Wow. Impressive. Did our standards fall so low?

  • wlubake

    Denzel should kill this role. He did a great job playing it in Man on Fire.

  • martin_basrawy

    agreed with this. this is a very derivative script. well-written, yes, but upon execution it will come across as very generic. how many times have we seen denzel be a total badass already?

    • Guest

      how many times have we seen denzel be a total badass already?

      about as many times as we see “it’s been done to all hell” comments on this thread

      • Gerard Kennelly

        training day
        safe house
        man on fire
        American gangster

  • Murphy

    I remember reading this a while back, did you not review it then?
    Anyway I seem to remember really liking it. Yeah the story has been done before but the writing was superb and he made this character come alive. It was a very good read. I think.

  • ff

    Kinda sounds like screenwriting 101 to me. Thanks for the review though I’ll check it out.

  • Chris Mulligan

    Looking for this script too if it’s around.

  • Chris Mulligan

    Locking the door’s been done a whole bunch. Surprised Carson liked that. Does it have a similar line to Watchmen too “You’re locked in here with ME.” Still want to read this though.

  • Montana Gillis

    The Equalizer was a television series many years ago. It was pretty good and must have struck a nerve with the public because it enjoyed some level of success. It’s about time that a feature script surfaced on this still marketable idea.

  • lesbiancannibal

    Another. Dead. Wife.

  • Somersby

    Like Jake, I posted comments about the script when Carson reviewed it last year. I know it’s an early draft – and I suspect many of the complaints the script is receiving will be addressed. Here are a few of mine:

    The “invincibility factor” robs this script of any real tension. As others have pointed out, there’s not a moment in the story where you actually fear for McCall’s safety or well-being.

    It starts out well. It takes its time developing Robert McCall’s character — or rather, the mystery and ambiguity that defines him rather than anything tangible and concrete. I loved this about him. By not knowing him, we seem in a weird way to know that much MORE about him.

    I also liked the first instance where McCall gets to show his stuff – especially after locking the door keeping Slavi and the other Russian thugs contained in the upper room of the club.

    But shortly after, it all went terribly wrong.

    By the time we get to the final showdown with the crew of well armed bad guys at the Home Depot store, McCall has somehow transformed from being a compelling and interesting character, a man who simply wants to find his place in a very confusing world, to being a superhero comic book character in the same league as Iron Man, Spider-man and Superman.

    Hell, maybe this project should be simply renamed to Equalizer-man.

    Because here’s what happens in about a 30 minute time frame: (SPOILERS BELOW!)

    – He dispatches two Russian heavies outside Teri’s apartment. No problem.

    – He takes out four armed thugs in 2 SUVs without being seen or heard. He even kills two of them from the SUV’s backseat. Yup. Apparently these trained thugs are not alert enough to hear a car door open and close.

    – He sneaks into the heavily guarded Home Depot without being spotted, and manages to cover every window in the place with tinfoil to block cell phone signals. Neat trick.

    – He cuts the power in the place, messes up the aisles so the bad guys make a noise when they walk, then conveniently restores power to just one halogen work light in order to blind and quickly execute two of the Russians. (Why didn’t any other lights in the place go on? Who cares, right?)

    – He kills a few more thugs with a nail gun and quickly stuffs a propane container into a microwave – which still works despite the power issues.

    – Oh, did I mention he’s also managed to chain and padlock every exit from the store?

    – He somehow creates an optical illusion where the Russians see McCall’s reflection in a mirror but aren’t able to see themselves even though he’s standing right behind them. (Try that one at home, kids.)

    – He hooks up a garage door opener to a suspended inverted wheelbarrow (which I assume HE suspended – unless there’s an artsy wheelbarrow display at the Depot of which I am unaware!) that he lowers to protect himself from a massive explosion of nails. An explosion he’s concocted with bags of fertilizer and a nice selection of Home Depot nails.

    – And finally, he’s able to end the life of the remaining threat with a box cutter he picked up in aisle 4.

    Okay, so the fact that McCall is going to cleverly use virtually every product in Home Depot to annihilate the bad guy Ruskies is not only telegraphed far in advance, it is an unintentionally hilarious sequence because it has us all waiting for the next clever (read: ridiculous) lethal device made from routine Home Depot products that McCall will come up with.

    I love it when heroes can take advantage of existing props and use them to their advantage. Jason Bourne could turn a rolled magazine into a deadly weapon, or a toaster into a catalyst for a gas explosion. Thing is, those choices are believable. Even though they are unusual choices, they allow me to stay grounded in intrigue and danger of the world the writer has created.

    Not so with this one. What starts as an interesting insight into the life of a skilled ex-CIA operative quickly devolves into a cartoon set piece that’s as overblown and unrealistic as an old Adam West “Batman” episode.

    Yes, the writer has inordinate skill at telling a story – but really, this story quickly becomes painfully tiresome and unoriginal.

    • Citizen M

      I loved the script but that final shoot-out (nail-out?) was totally implausible.

      There’s obviously scope for sequels. McCall in a supermarket. McCall on the farm. McCall in the Tesla factory. McCall at Cape Canaveral. McCall on the ISS.

  • Midnight Luck

    would anyone be so kind as to send me this if you have it?

    I love sparse writing, and this sounds great.

    A million, million thanks to anyone out there who sends it along

    m (at) blackluck [dot] com

    • themovienerd
      • Midnight Luck


        I signed on to get it, but still haven’t gotten my link or code or acceptance or whatever. So can’t access it, or download it.

        Did receive it from others though.

        thanks for the quick response and help though. I appreciate it.

        • Nate

          It took me a few days to get the sign-up link. If you haven’t got it already you’ll get by the end of the week.
          It’s a good little site with a lot of fantastic scripts. The first day I went I just scrolled through every single page on the forums, downloading at least 20 scripts.
          And the people there are pretty cool. I commented in a thread where someone was asking for the Lucy and Uncharted scripts, woke up the next day to find someone has sent me the links in a PM and I didn’t even ask for them. Best part about the site though is it’s free.

          • Guest

            Really? It took me at least 20 minutes to get all signed up. I wanted the script, saw the link in a comment, and signed up. Then they said they had to authorize or authenticate the registration, something like that, and that I would be notified when they do. I got an email about 15 minutes later and I could download the script. I guess it varies in time for everybody. But few days? wow, that’s a big variance

          • Nate

            Well I say a few days when it was probably a day at the most. I didn’t actually check for two days so that’s probably why.

  • Shaun Snyder

    Got it, from several people. Thank you, Scriptshadow!

  • kenglo

    Wow…I perused ALL the comments about how ‘the story’ is so ‘been there done that’ and that it wouldn’t be a good movie and yadayadayada…. I think we are missing the point. The point is THIS is how you write a script. The format, the subtext wherever it is, the structure. I read this years ago, I am forcing myself to write like this. Everything. The style, the VOICE. Personally, I couldn’t put it down. I read some good stuff, but sometimes have to get back to it. This is one of the few I read in one sitting. Originality?? C’mon, How many ways can you kill a dude? It seems (to me) most of the comments were bashing the screenplay because they don’t agree with choices. Read 2-Guns. Then watch the movie. Everything changes by the time you get to the screen. I was in PLATOON back in the day. I sat and watched Forrest Whitaker, David Kieth (or is it Keith David???) write their lines for their shot. We ad-libbed the opening scene, with our lines thrown at us from Capt. Dale Dye, the MC.


    Look at Monster Problems, another SS fave. Same style. Look at GOLD or ENDS OF THE EARTH. Same thing.

    If we are too cynical/critical to look at professional work that has been SOLD and cannot see the forest for the trees, then WE will never improve our own writing.

    Just sayin’.


    Soooooo if I put my email address here; lets say it’s; If I put that email address here, will the script magically appear in my inbox for me to read and love the person who sent it?

  • Film_Shark

    It’s a brilliant screenplay due to the protagonist’s backstory (e.g. reading the book list) revealed through his actions and deeds. The only part that I found a bit slow was McCall’s workplace – Home Depot? That has to be one of the most mundane places to work on the planet. I’m not sure if a man like McCall would be able to handle such a boring retail job with his level of skills.

    However, he is a likable antihero and we get to know what a great guy he is through out the story. As you mention Carson, he helps other people that typically get picked on in life. It’s a great way to get empathy from the audience. It will be interesting to see where Antoine Fuqua takes it. As far as the fight scenes are concerned, they are some of the most suspenseful I’ve ever read on a page due to the screenwriter’s concise but explosive way he shows how deadly McCall is when his back is up against the wall.

  • kenglo

    Thanks again…your insight is always refreshing!