Apparently ripped from the pages of MSNBC, “The Means” chronicles one man’s dogged fight against prostitution and police corruption.
It’s a well written, tightly structured screenplay that reads fast and easy and features credible dialogue, a strong antagonist and a couple of smart and surprising plot turns.
The one problem: I’m not exactly sure what the story is about.
It all comes down to Darren’s motivation. Initially it’s his son’s accident that drives him to go after the prostitutes and johns, but soon his desire for justice morphs into empathy for the downtrodden street walkers, Delawnee in particular.
However, later it’s revealed that Darren has a history of taking matters into his own hands when Hendrix learns that Darren is a former law enforcer who may have hunted down and murdered three criminals who, during a routine traffic stop, nearly beat him to death. (You might want to rethink this bit of back-story. Would Darren really be upset over Hendrix beating up a suspect when he himself thrice acted as judge, jury and executioner?)
In other words, it’s just like the character Renee says in the end: “Everybody just made the way he is.” Is that the moral of the story? Or is this script about a vengeful man who, at the moment of truth, finds his lost humanity?
Either way, too much time is spent on Darren hassling hookers and arguing with Elena, etc. Consider streamlining the plot and focusing more intensely on the relationship between do-gooder Darren and the murderous cop, Hendrix. Their burgeoning “friendship” is the most compelling element in the story, but it‘s also underdeveloped.
If you haven’t already seen it, checkout the film “Joe” with Peter Boyle, about two men from very different worlds who, in the end, discover they have a lot more in common then they realized.
Despite the muddled theme, “The Means” is still one of the better screenplays I‘ve read on TS. You’re a talented writer.
Page 5 - “Super: May.” Shouldn’t the Super appear before the accident?
Page 6 - “…Then Doug shuts off his light…” I thought Doug was an editor (pg. 4).
Page 8 - “On the TV…” Lose this paragraph. Who cares what’s on TV?
Page 23 - “Pointed at the ground…” Lose this line.
Page 47 - It’s odd that Hendrix, a cop, wouldn’t know what MS-13 is.
Page 60 - Hendrix shoots the camera three times? Why didn’t he just smash it?
Page 62 - Darren says: “Come on. I’ll give you a ride…” You mean Hendrix?
Page 66 - You could cutout the Editing Bay scene.
Page 70 - You don’t “cock” a pump-action shotgun, you “rack” it.
Page 72 - I was under the impression that Hendrix already knew, or at least suspected, that Darren was once a cop (pg. 27).
Page 74 - Up to this point the script feels very authentic, very “real” -- that’s one of its strengths -- but three shootings in a single year stretches the bonds of credulity. (Like Hendrix says, “That’s pretty unlikely.”)
Page 79 - Would the judge declare a mistrial or would he simply replace the juror in question?
Page 85 - Hendrix: “Oh you could say something, it would just come out all phony.” Funny.
Page 90 - When did Darren get his hands in front of him? And how come Ricky and Staley didn’t notice?
Page 96 - “…Not a trace of a limp in his stride.” Was Darren’s leg injury all in his mind?
Page 99 - Darren’s story about his brother is good, but it comes out of left field. You should set it up earlier in the story.
Review of: The Means (9-10)
reviewed by fencik on 11/09/2010
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