Your logline really grabbed me and I was excited to read this. I think it's a great idea for a script and could make a great movie. I must admit, I was expecting (hoping) for a drama about a man trying to make his way across a country that is hostel towards him, all the while teaching those he comes in contact with some important lessons, while learning a few himself. The unltimate irony being that he had nothing to do with 9/11, yet he IS a hitman. That's the script I was hoping to read. But...it is not the script you wanted to write so I won't try and push you in that direction.
Below are the thoughts I had while reading the script. Hopefully they will help on your next draft.
I get that you don't want him to have a name, much like almost all the characters in this script, and I like the idea that nobody has a name in this script, but after 3 pages I was tired of reading the words "The Arab". It got really grating. Not sure if I have a suggestion here, but keep in mind this may turn readers off. One thing that will help out a lot is to go through the entire script and look at all the places where you start and action line with "The Arab...". There are a crap load. Try to rewrite as many sentences as possible with something different. There are so many scenes that he is the only person in the scene. I think you can get away with just using "He" after establishing who it is, instead of typing "The Arab" over and over.
I wonder if there shouldn't be a super at the beginning telling us what year it is. It will set the precedent. I can see the reason for not using it. It makes those first images of the twin towers give the audience and "ahhh..." moment, but I still found myself thinking that if I hadn't read your logline I wouldn't have had any idea of the year, giving the whole opening a different context.
Pages 38 & 39 really confused me. The action described is really confusing. What is with the tool box? Why is it strapped to The Arab. How big is this tool box? I just can't picture it. I was also confused by character motivation. What is this Australian doing? I know he explains later that he needed to do it for the set up, but that is one hell of a sloppy set up. What kind of hit men are these guys? And even with the explanation, why wouldn't he have just planned it out with The Arab so they're both in on it? Or did I miss something? And if it was all just an elaborite set up, why didn't The Arab go along with it. I don't know. I just didn't get this scene at all.
At this point I'm starting to question the dialog of these characters. If you take The Contractor, The Australain hit man, and The Arab hit man, none of them talk our sound how I would expect them to. They all just seem so...amateur. I don't buy for a second that this Contractor is a high ranking government official or even the head of a major corporation. He just sound like Joe Schmo. The Arab doesn't sound cold enough to be hit man. There's too much of something in his words. And the Australian doesn't sound Australian. Don't make him sound like Crocodile Dundee by any means, but they use different words over there.
Okay, after The Arab gets schooled by a dude on a motorcycle, I'm starting to see this guy as a real wimp. He even apologizes as the biker drives off. Is this guy a cold killer or a wimp? And even if he has compassion, that's fine, but he should be able to take out a biker, what with all his training. I just didn't buy this scene at all, and it totally changed my opinion of this character (not to mention that later when he takes on a whole van of business men I found myself thinking that his character has flip flopped again). You need to ask yourself, is this guy a tough bad ass or a wimp and then stick with that. That's not to say he can't have compassion and a conscious. But he still needs to be consistent, at least until he has an arc (which I'll get to later).
I saw multiple moment of unnecessary dialog. I only took note of one instance though. In the dream sequence, when his car goes over the cliff, you have him yell "Please no". This just comes across as awkward. Not sure I can see someone yelling that as they plummet to their death. Just write something in your action lines like "He screams out as the car plummets toward the water." There were other instances where someone screamed something and it was in a dialog block. I just put that stuff in the action lines. Let the actor figure out how he wants to do it.
What's with the fishing line? It never comes into play unless you included the scene with the overturned semi truck. But I really didn't see how it came into play here either. This may be another instance of me being confused like on pages 38 & 39, but was he holding her up with fishing line? Cause if so, it's just not possible. Even the heaviest of that stuff is only rated at so many pounds, which is not enought to hold up a fully grown girl. They actually use heavy cable for deep sea fishing, which is for fish over 60 lbs. or so. Maybe I misunderstood and he's not holding her up with the fishing line. If that's the case, I still can't figure out why it plays a part in this story at all.
One thing you do great in this story is keep the action going. It never lets up for too long. Since you decided to go the action route with this script, that's a good thing. But the set pieces aren't very new or interesting. I did kind of like the overturned semi, but it was concfusing because we only see it from the inside of the truck until the last second. I suggest going back to that scene and giving more description once we leave the inside of the truck. Describe what we see in as vivid detail as possible, cause I had a hard time picturing it. Plus, what happened to the truck in the first place? I like that we the audience experience everything from the inside of the truck with the characters. That was cool. But before the truck crashes, maybe we should see what causes it. The rest of the set pieces should be given more consideration. Show us something new and incredible with the action in this script. Just go for it.
Pg 74. "One car among many drives down the interstate." Huh? That's the same as saying "Many cars drive down the interstate." Not sure what you were trying to convey here.
This exposition on pages 85 & 86 needs to go. I'd rather not even know who this guy is or where he comes from than have to experience exposition like this in a movie. It's just too painfully obvious. He's telling this lady to tell the audience, even though there's in no reason whatsoever for him to tell her. If you absolutely feel you have to deliver this exposition, have her ask him questions as they drive. Because as it stands, he just blurts it out to her. I just didn't buy it for a second.
Those are my notes. Overall, I had a hard time with the premise. I just didn't get who these agents were or who the contractor was and what the stakes were for any of these people. Or what the point to any of it was really. And then to hinge it all on one guy, who happened to know who one other guy was. It all seemed really contrived.
I wish you the best of luck with it. As I said, the premise had me really excited to read this. It's a great idea. The execution just needs some work. Happy writing.
Review of: Ground Work (early draft)
reviewed by Podger on 10/06/2009
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