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Manhunt by Marcello Degliuomini (Reel-Truth) - Thriller - A man who has spent his life taking down scores, must break out of prison to settle an old one. Before a malicious ex partner kidnaps his son in an attempt to retrieve the loot from their last job. 92 pages - pdf, format
Read the first ten, mate. Despite lots of exposition, it looks like it might be my kind of story. One thing I noticed was that if Junior is a baller, why is he hanging with Max on the yard? Shouldn't he be with his baller buddies?
I'll get back to this when I have more time. Still got Prussian's script to read yet.
As this is an early draft, I've tried to overlook the spelling and grammar mistakes that happen throughout the script. But it does need a good clean up if you do come back to it at some point. Be careful with 'you're' and 'your' for example, not to mention it's 'well' and not 'we'll', which also happens a lot.
My first problem with this is that although anti-heroes can work, I personally find it hard to care for a person when they've crossed a certain line. One of the things that I count as crossing the line is innocent people being killed. Although it isn't Max himself who killed Schilling, it is implied that it's on his orders, and as that happened early on I wasn't really behind Max.
I get that Schilling is a d!ck, but the thing is he's just a guy doing his job which happens to be working amongst a lot of undoubtedly horrible people. You can understand him having a bit of an attitude towards the inmates. He could quite easily have just had his arm or leg broken, or a serious beat down. He'd still have to take some time off work, but it'd be easier to take then him being murdered in cold blood.
Also, on page 47 Max kills a state trooper. Or at least it's implied he did as a shot gets fired and he's covered in blood. Again it could just be down to my personal taste, but that's way over the line in my book. Especially when he gets to end up playing happy families at the end, zero consequences for his actions which he definitely deserves.
Another big problem was when Rico captures Max and Sam. At first I thought he was a pretty switched on bad guy, but he's actually just a dumb Bond villain. I'm no criminal mastermind, but if I wanted to find out information from Max, I would of been cutting off Sam's fingers until he told me. I most definitely wouldn't of sent him out on a little day trip to go get the jewels himself. That felt like you hadn't really thought it through, like you just wanted a reason to get Max into the set piece situation at Avery's place. It didn't feel natural.
I think you missed out on a lot of potential conflict between Max and Sam. There's a little bit in there about why Max left him as a kid, but Sam just seems to be totally okay with it. You could definitely ramp it up between them. Make it even harder for Max so he's got problems all over the shop.
There's a couple of times in there where you have characters basically say the same information twice. Examples are when Max and Rico first talk and we find out Rico tried to kill him, then a little while later Max tells the same stuff to Junior. Another would be on page 27 where the deputy tells agent Miles what happened, and as we've already seen how everyone dies it's pretty much wasted words. Wherever you can, only say/show the information once.
Although unlikely, I can buy Max surviving the fall off the bridge. I once heard a story about a guy who was working on the golden gate bridge and he fell off. Usually most people would die on impact, but he was working with a set of tools, some of which fell and broke the surface of the water before he hit. I've no idea if it's true or it's an urban legend, but I'm willing to go with it being true, and therefore I believe Max could of survived too.
My final point is more curiosity on my part. You say Junior has a 'buck fifty' running down his face. I have zero idea what that means, but maybe that's just my ignorance. I'm guessing it's either a scar or a tattoo, but I don't know for sure. If it is one of those, maybe go with that instead as people like me who don't get it will be left a little confused.
On the schilling murder, I didn't want the entire escape to be handled by Junior. Since junior was consulting with Max, a supposed expert. I wanted to have Max put in work. Now by doing that, I realized Max might not be looked at as the Persecuted saint in all this. He is a bad guy. Not as ruthless as Rico. But he can be. I chose to have Schilling killed and dragged into a van because I felt if he was attacked outside of work, being a Correction officer that he is, that the prison might make the connection to some type of inmate retaliation and put the whole place in high alert. Making it that much more harder to escape. I actually had dialogue supporting this in a very early draft. But it didn't make the cut.
I probably should have indicated a much darker history between Schilling and Max. Something that would lend credence to the actions that Max took.
Max and the state trooper. I was trying something that’s not usually seen with these type of father and son on the run type stories. The son usually doesn’t wake up in the dead of night, on a dirt road and hear a gun shot, and see his father covered in blood. I wanted that scene to just be as raw as it could be. And I know that I was treading that line between having something fresh and alienating my audience with my Protag. And in regards to the end, I had a few options but eventually went with the everything works out scenario. I’m usually aware when dealing with…should my character deserve to live or die? But I was building this type of..”Mythology” around Max. Maybe not a mythology but a way of letting the reader know, that Max is a hard man to kill. Maybe even un-killable. Alligator blood. One of those guys. So to have him die at the end as Movie morality would have it, I felt wouldn't have served the story better. You want to think he’s dead…then right at the end…He comes back. Just my way of thinking about it.
When Rico catches up with Sam and Max after the accident, was a crucial junction in the script. True, I didn't fully flesh out the plot at this point. I actually wrote 20 pages that was scrapped. I re-wrote it in the hopes of connecting to Avery’s scene. Which went in a different direction as well. At this point I was stumped. Trying to logically connect dots., where it was hard to see the lines. So I went with a cop out scene. Which I was never fully satisfied with. But I did need a reason for Max to be free of Rico and then to have Max hunt him down with the help of Avery. I figured since Rico has Sam, he now has the leverage, he could send his Goons with Max on that “field trip” to recover the stones without feeling that Max has some kind of advantage. And to have Rico not accompany them because Max is now the most wanted man in the country and is High profile, was another aspect about this scene I wasn't comfortable with. It was definitely the most trying scene to get through.
I thought of adding more into Sam and Max’s history. But as I thought about the characters. I realized Sam had to grow up pretty quick. In fact he’s got rough skin. I didn't want to have a scene where Sam is screaming at Max…"why did you leave me!" I think Sam is smarter enough to realize his father was a thief and he was locked up because of it. Never real knew the guy. But when he got a bit older, was curious to. Probably could have added a little more to their relationship.
I see what you mean about information being repeated. In regards to Max’s conversation with Junior, I wanted Max to explain a bit of his back story, as well as keep the reader unaware on Junior’s involvement with Rico. Besides, Max discussing Rico was my way of transitioning in to the next scene with the idea that Sam is in danger.
I did my research before I had people fall of bridges. That, and being a resident, you hear stories. But the stories are true. People have survived the jump. Not many. One women tried to kill herself a few years back and when the rescue boats found her, she didn't have a scratch on her. So I figured this played well with that Mythology that Max can’t be killed.
A buck fifty is a large scar from the result of a knife or a box cutter. Buck fifty because a cut that large usually requires 150 stitches at least. My first ten actually had scar written down, but for some reason I changed it. And to Dustin’s question…I wasn't referring to The baller gang. It was referring to the fact his man was a baller. A dude would a lot of money. Ya’ know…balliinnn! These are slang words that are usually more accustomed to people from this side of the pond. I read slang from writers over there and I’m not sure exactly on what they're saying.... but I can make a pretty good judgment to what it is.
Like I said about the black/baller issue thing. Those two sitting together would create a lot of interest from the guards and inmates alike. It would be better, IMO, to have Junior just a normal black guy down on his luck, maybe an ex pro boxer who was being strong-armed, then he took out the guys strongarming him and copped a life sentence. Make me care about the guy, instead of just some cliched baller. At least then it wouldn't be so strange these two talking together.
I'm up to page twenty right now and I'm guessing at the stage of the prison break that is completely funded by Junior's baller activities.
The whole thing with the same coke machine being wheeled into the officer's mess I found difficult to swallow. Why not just bring in a new one?
There are also a lot of grammar issues that I'm not going to bother going into as I know you're already aware of them. I feel that by choosing not to learn some simple rules that you are seriously hurting your chances of ever selling a script.
There is a heap of exposition too... understandable from an early draft... but my advice there is to stop feeding us the story through dialogue and if you have to fill us in on backstory, make sure something exciting is happening while you do it, else you will lose your viewer and yawns will ensue.
Sure was. They killed him though.
Saunders turns to the Ray.
Would Saunders really ask, over what? The natural question there would be, who killed him? Who is 'they'? Saunders acts as though he already knows who 'they' are and that it's perfectly acceptable to be killed by a 'they', his only issue is, what was it for? You see my point?
Ray slams the gas -- the truck bulldozes the outer steal
door right from it’s hinges.
In my country the vehicle stops are conducted between two gates, so a truck wouldn't be able to build enough acceleration to even attempt to smash through. Bit of a suspension of disbelief required for me here.
Now how the hell does a man survive
something like this?
What's the point in having him talk to himself if somebody is just going to answer him anyway?
Pedal - on a bike, they are pedals, not peddles.
What are you smiling about?
Nothin’ it’s just... you got people
in the trunk, you broke out a
prison, you ran over guy... you’re
like totally bad ass.
We do what we have to do sometimes.
I don’t enjoy hurting people. And
neither should you. You hear me?
Sam, now less excited.
I hope you do.
Lesson learned. I think the above needs work.
Max has just killed a cop. That's hard to swallow. Killing an innocent isn't usually how these things go.
I got to the end... and I'm shocked to see Max pull through, in the very least he deserved to die for all those people that got hurt just so he could save his son. I can understand the love for his son running that deep he'd kill all those people, but once you kill innocent people, you lose the audience... because his son is an innocent, so we can all root for that, but what about that poor cop, what about his kids? His family? Don't they matter? All that matters is our hero's ego and the safety of his son? Doesn't work like that.
Over all this is very heavily cliched and full of exposition. Grammar is bad throughout. The story itself runs smoothly enough, I suppose. Some of your action is well written, but the build-ups beforehand do little for wanting me to stick with the story. Good luck with it.
I get what your saying about Max and Junior raising eyebrows in a racially secluded environment, such as prison. But since I didn’t label Junior as being affiliated with any gang. It could just be two guys locked up talking to each other. And the idea that Junior, as a clichéd “baller” ( someone with money) wasn’t referenced in the script. He was referring to his outside contact, i.e Rico. I probably could have just swapped that expression for a different one and cleared up any un-due confusion.
Junior’s baller activities…lol... Again, the term is referred to his outside contact. Not Junior. Junior had no money. Rico was the bankroll for the escape. And Junior was a pawn.
The coke Machine. This is the essence of the escape. They brought ONE coke machine into the prison. The inside was gutted out. Enough room for two people to squeeze into. What they did was….Wheel out the old Coke machine into a nearby hallway. And then pretend it was a completely different one, and wheel it right back into the room. If they would have brought TWO soda machines, they would have had to switch it with another one. The idea is something like a magic trick. In where, the guards perception to what they think they see, isn’t what is…In essence what they did was…Wheel in a giant gutted out escape box for two convicts. Then they would wheel out the same soda machine through the loading docks. And Saunders the loading dock guard, would think that they were bringing out the old machine. See what am saying?
I can see your point with the Saunders response, “what for” as opposed to Who’s they” In this little brief conversation between Ray and Saunders, Ray is speaking in a general sense. “They” could imply anyone really. And Saunders response is of a man who wasn’t really paying attention, as he was fixed on seeing the coke machine opened up. I suppose I could have said something like….” But he was shot down in the street” and Saunders response could have been…” Over what?”…And that would have transitioned into the next line, which was…“He never knew when to quit.” But I do see what you’re saying.
It’s funny you mention about the proximity of the two gates. That was a concern of mine while writing the scene. I was hoping for a little bit of latitude with this scene. Let your imagination paint the picture for you kinda' thing.
I actually was going to take out that “ to himself” part. Where agent miles says…
AGENT MILES (to himself) Now how the hell does a man survive something like this?
I was picturing Agent Miles a few feet away from the deputy, basically asking himself a question, a rhetorical one. But of course the dopey deputy heard him and responded.
Max killing the trooper is the moment where I guess I lose all sympathy or plight with my protag. But in the big scheme of things. He only killed ONE innocent. Schilling’s killing was a miss-step on my part. I still wanted schilling dead, but maybe I could have had Max find out that schilling was the one who gave up his son’s address to Rico. That there, I think would have constituted as a form of coercion with the enemy. Something that would justify his death and rule him out as an innocent. The guards that Ray and Kenny killed, was all on them. As those turn of events were not part of the plan. The plan was to drive right out of the prison, no casualties. The trooper was the only “innocent” killed by Max. But Max explains to his son that , We do what we “have” to do sometimes. I look at it like… put yourself in Max’s frame of mind. He just broke out of prison, for the second time of his life. His ex-partner, a man who is ruthless and determined, who has already proven has men on his payroll as cops. Leaving out the idea that the police can help Max’s son in this situation. Max has no choice. The fate of his son and the possibility of spending the rest of his life locked away back in prison. Or… the life of this cop. Easy choice for Max. But still a hard one. If you know what I mean. I think if you dig deep inside us all, is that type of mentality. The you or me mentality. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I’m liable to do in that type of situation. The way we are raised, and the way we look at the world, have a lot to do with that type of decision. A decision that crossed the line, proving that Max would go to the extreme to get to the end point. I know… maybe I’m just talking out my ass. But that’s the way I seen it. And that’s the way I intended it.
The end was something I toiled over a bit. Trying out different versions. One version was that Max died for his son to be safe. A sacrifice. And left behind the precious stones in a safe place for Sam to uncover. But as I thought of it… I liked the idea of the wife not being dead. That she was alive the whole time. Wearing of course the stones across her neck. And because I was building up Max’s character as a man who can’t be killed…I figured let’s just bring him out of the woods and reunite the whole family. Usually my endings tend to be more sour than that. But for this one, I said fuck it.
I definitely appreciate the read Dustin
I’ll try and get to yours this week. I’ve been kinda’ busy as of late. But I’ll try and get some more reads down as soon as I can.
There are some precise changes in the first 10. Positive. Big improvement.
I especially like the new plot on p 9
I thought about if this isn't a much bloodier affair. Schilling must have blooded like a slaughtered animal. If they would lay him down on the van's wooden boards, the blood must have been even flow out of the back door while driving.
It also would be a nice visual to see the blood dripping down on the map covering it more and more. Junior said something about Kelly's hair. So, show what he meant in the scene before. You can bring more color into the script with more eye catching details like those both points here.
"Dead. Car accident. The kid was raised by his grandmother until she died a few years after."
Good. I like both dialogue scenes and the balance how things move within both locations.
[("...only token black friend, Darryl..." – No. I don't like this whole Darryl stuff... If the characters make jokes, like the one in the dialogue, it has to have a connection to the Story. Over and over the same scheme of jokes and to put it into the description: No. It's sad we have such an amount of movies who can't get there things done without that stuff. In the end they have simply learned to sell established resentments the most profitable. It was such a personal huge red flag for me that I couldn't read on without articulating some words first. I guess some people would put it down at this point (because of the description-part)- on the other hand I think maybe some would justify it with a realistic picture of society. Then, well, I think we're at a point, with regard to the amount, where almost every single dark skinned, who stands for that realistic "only token black", must've been characterized in a movie, maybe twice. I'm not going to further discuss it from my side here. Even though I respect yours or whoever's opinion, of course.)]
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER 1# (heartbroken) They’re taking our soda machine away?
A good laugh. Great use of parentheses. I like that you use some unexpected humorous lines here and there.
I like the prison break. It works well.
I also like that police cars immediately follow. I can imagine they are as quick at Sing Sing's surroundings.
"Max rolls the soda machine to the edge of the trailer and lifts up."
Throwing overboard Coca Cola machines to smash cop cars. One of the best camouflaged advertising in motion picture history.
The chase is fun.
I like the plot point. I think it's interesting you took them all out. It also distracts a bit from Max' escape. That works like a trade: I give you three dead bodies so believe now the protagonist has made it. Mature story telling.
"He sees an old roll of duck tape underneath a tire iron."
That doesn't work that way imo.
Maybe it would, if you let him smile as you did and cut to show the man gagged and fixxed while the trunk closes and Max already wears the man's clothes which look sill on him to distract and create a further fun moment or sth. Then we would have a possibility to say: Okay, our hero/antihero has some luck here. But if you show him how he rolls the tape, and spend more time, it's too rational for using such a big deus ex machina. The emotion "luck" and only his smile on the other side could work. It could. I'm not sure.
I can't read it straight through. But I'll come back to give you more notes. At first it's a good fun.
Despite the typo and grammar errors, I thought the writing was decent here. I was rarely confused as to what was going on or what the characters were doing within the scene. The story flows along pretty well too.
Pg. 7 “MAX: Look, before you go and do something stupid, that kid has nothing to do with this.” This line felt false. Max and Rico know each other very well, so shouldn’t Max know how fruitless this line is. Shouldn’t he know that he’s cornered already?
“MAX: I swear to god if you touch him, I’ll...” “MAX: I should have killed you when I had the chance.” These lines feel too easy, you could plug them into the mouth of any character. I’d come up with something a little more distinct for your main character.
Pg. 9 Besides this murder making your protag too unlikable, it’s overkill. Couldn’t they have just broken his leg? Or given him non-fatal poisoning. I’m pretty sure calling out of work for a week meets their needs just as well as him being dead, which means Max wanted him dead as opposed to just absent. Also, is Schilling the only competent/non-corrupt guard in the place?
Pg. 11 This conversation could’ve actually flowed smoothly in the rec yard without the change of location.
I’m not sure we need all the exposition going on here. I haven’t noticed Max and Junior to be close enough for Max to just be spilling all this, especially the stuff about Rico. Also, when Rico says, ‘He’s got your last name, how long did you think it would take?” that was good enough for me. I don’t need any better explanation. The best thing about this exposition is how unnecessary it is. I’d cut it.
I’m digging how the escape is going, but it would’ve been nice to get some background on how these guys have a soda truck and how they could fake their way in on that pretense.
Pg. 24 “The other three weave around and start FIRING.” Cops don’t tend to fire from moving vehicles. The logistics make it inefficient, though I could see one getting close enough to try to take out the tires.
Pg. 25 “Ray looks over to see the kid” The kid is Kenny, right? Not Junior?
I liked the attempted escape and how it fell apart leading to the high speed chase. Good stuff. But the plan they had seemed rather haphazard. Almost doomed to fail. Since time is of the essence, I can imagine they wouldn’t exactly be refining this plan. Leading up to it, you should acknowledge how rushed and thrown together the plan is. Let the characters worry about it. Otherwise they seem a little dim. Like they thought this would pan out, then just ended shooting up the joint.
Pg. 27 With Schilling, Ray and Junior all being killed off before 30 pages, I wonder if that’s too much too early. If the first act is meant to introduce the world and the characters in it, it seems you’ve just dispatched with half of your set-up characters. I kinda dig the shock factor, but having to set-up brand new characters and relationships going into the second act might be a little daunting. You may want to hold off killing at least one of those guys until later.
Pg. 33 It might be confusing that you’ve called this guy detective when it turns out he’s not one.
Pg. 34 “Down on the carpet is his foster parent Susan, shot dead in the chest. Her eyes stuck open like a lifeless doll.” Why didn’t they just wait for him to get home instead of trying to abduct him on the street in broad daylight?
“SOUND of a car SCREECHING to a stop.” “SOUND of the front door BUSTS open.” All you need is “The car SCREECHES to a stop”, ”The front door BUSTS open”. Technically you don’t need to cap sounds at all, but capping the word ‘sound’ is especially fruitless.
As a side note, there goes Susan. You now have three characters held over from your first act.
Pg. 38 “I mean, I actually enjoy this shit.” This is a good example of some of the on-the-nose dialogue I’m finding throughout. Of course he enjoys doing that shit. Otherwise he wouldn’t be doing it.
Pg. 40 “He pulls out the man’s wallet, it reveals a Pittsburgh Police badge.” Whoa, he was a cop. I don’t know about that. How could an actual cop fail to convince a twelve year-old that he was an actual cop?
Pg. 41 “Son of a bitch broke out of prison, killed the boys legal guardian, shot this cop here, then kidnapped his son. We need to get in ahead of this.” While this is a nice misunderstanding, the problem is that it does nothing to change the stakes. He’s already responsible for the deaths of several cops. His crew drilled a man’s brains out. He’s already public enemy number one.
Pg. 43 “YOUNG MAN: How do I know you wont just follow me into the woods and hunt me down with your boy for sport. Like some sick father son shit.” Not sure I buy that anyone would say this. Especially not someone who’s biggest concern a few hours ago was his bank account being overdrawn.
Pg. 45 “The old man trembles as he tries to keep the damn thing straight.” If he’s so terrified why did he initiate a confrontation?
Pg. 47 “Sam turns to his father, his face splattered in blood.” This line made me think for a moment it was Sam who shot the cop. I mostly bring it up because… I think it would’ve been a more interesting choice at this juncture.
Pg. 50 Once again, Max is much too free and easy with expressing his feelings to his son. He doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who’ll just come out and say this stuff in such a direct fashion, so I’m not affected by the moment the way I should be.
Pg. 54 I’m sure it’d look great, but this is where Rico plans to take them out? In front of dozens of cops and thousands of witnesses via national TV? What hitman in their right mind would agree to this? Why would Rico come personally? Wouldn’t the cops catching Max and taking Sam away be exactly what Rico needs anyway? What’s the logic here?
Pg. 56 I’m also having a hard time believing that the police would get far enough behind to lose them.
Pg. 57 “RICO: Without me, you’d a been still been rotting away in Sing Sing. Just another convict, just another number. How do you think those guards got paid off? Junior?” So Rico assisted Max’s escape? Why would he do that? The one thing Rico has against Max is Sam. That would never change with Max in jail. Why would Rico assist in Max’s escape when he knows the first thing Max will do is attempt to take away his only leverage? The only reason Max has a fighting chance is because Rico gave it to him?
Pg. 58 “MAX: I’ll get you the stones.” If Max could’ve given Rico the stones all along and instead put his son at risk and murdered cops so he wouldn’t have to, he’s pretty detestable.
Pg. 67 The back and forth between Rico and Sam is really cheesy. Too cheesy for a movie where the protagonist has killed a cop.
Pg. 70 I think the Club Goer is an unneeded distraction. Entering the third act, we’re heading for the inevitable confrontation. I don’t think it works pacing-wise to put that on pause for a laugh line.
Pg. 72 ‘A gun gets pressed to the back of Max’s head. It’s the bouncer he chopped in the neck.” Based on what I’ve seen, I think Max is smarter than this. Too little time has passed for him to lose track of that guy.
Pg. 76 I think you’ll need to do some ironing out of Agent Miles’ storyline. Cause while Max and Rico are engaged in what appears to be the climax of the movie… “Agent Miles is asleep on his living room couch.”
Pg. 85 “Agent miles with the sirens blazing screeches to the scene, driving from the opposite direction of traffic.” Last we saw him he was on foot.
Pg. 86 “SPLASH!... or SPLAT.” Should probably just pick one.
I like that the story had a lot of drive. It never lulled for long and I actually found it to be a fast read. But…
My biggest problem, as with others, was the morality of your protagonist. I actually see it as worse than others though. I’ll explain. I’m sure much of this was unintentional, and some may be my own misreading. Hopefully it’ll be helpful to see why things broke down for me…
First off, everything that happens here is Max’s fault. Max stole “stones” from a man who chainsaws people’s scrotums in half. What did he think was gonna happen? He then puts these conflict diamonds around his wife’s neck, who he keeps hidden away in exile. I also don’t understand why he kept his wife and son split apart. The kid was being raised by his grandmother and put into foster homes, why didn’t he get the kid to his wife sooner. Apparently he would’ve been a lot safer there. The only reason Sam was exposed at all was because Max insisted on keeping a child separated from his mother.
So along comes Rico with, what sounds to me like, a completely legitimate request. “Give me back the diamonds you stole from me.” Rico of course is a bad guy, so he threatens to kill Max’s son. And Max’s response is the equivalent of, “Go ahead and try to kill my son, punkass. You’re not getting the stones back.” Max says later that Rico would kill Sam anyway, but I don’t buy it. One, it’s a really convenient thing for Max to say, considering he has the stones, but doesn’t want to give them up. Two, what does Rico get by killing Sam anyway. How many people must Rico threaten in a month to get what he wants? Does he just kill everyone anyway? He can’t, or else no one would ever trust him to do business. In this case I believed Rico. If Max had handed over the stones, his son would’ve been safe.
Max kills Schilling, even though he didn’t have to. There are a lot of ways to keep a man home from work for one day. Some of them are even nice. For half the price of a hitman and body disposal they could’ve sent a prostitute to rock his world for the next twelve hours. But instead Max allows him to be killed. Max seems fine with quite a lot of death. His regrets struck me as mostly lip service and weak justifications. He says he ‘had to’, but I never saw it. Maybe he had to kill that Trooper, maybe not. But in my head is still the idea, “He’s not protecting his son here, he’s protecting the diamonds.”
[As a side note, I actually like the way you handled that scene and thought it was effective. I’m just not sure about what it implies for your story and main character.]
Even when Rico has Sam in his grasp, Max chooses to play games rather than contemplate handing over the stones. He engages his Goons in a firefight when all it would’ve taken was one phone call back to Rico and his son is toast. A lesser man might’ve considered giving Rico what he wants, but Max is really committed to those stones.
So, as you can see, I think having the stones exist and be accessible to Max is a huge mistake that makes his already questionable actions near unforgivable. I would keep it as Max actually not having the stones and Rico not believing him, which is what I thought it was the whole time. Plus, for a protagonist who has as much blood on his hands as Max does, giving him $72 million worth of stones and his dead wife back is a bit much.
In my mind having Max save his son, then go back to jail knowing he’s never going to get out, would work well for me. Especially if he offered himself up, acknowledged there were consequences to his actions, but also insisted that he wouldn’t do anything differently. That might give your morally ambiguous character a lighter shade of grey than he currently has. And it might keep Sam from growing up to be a thug.
Hopefully that didn’t come off too harsh, and hopefully it helps to know exactly how all those elements connected in my head. Good luck going forward with it.
Those visuals of blood dripping are good suggestions. I skimmed out on a lot of visuals I could have added into the script.
With the Darryl scene… I figured it was borderline racist in a way. But they’re friends. And I made sure Darryl had something to say to the both of them for their slick comments
I‘m glad you liked that little soda machine joke. It always made me smile while re-reading it over. I personally liked that line myself.
I picked up on the fact I was writing a lot of Coca Cola lines. And then to have the machines being thrown off a truck to smash cop cars, just added more to it. I’m sure Coca Cola would love that kind of publicity in a movie…lol
Hey man you brought up some really good points and plot holes. I was never was hundred percent on this story. I knew after I wrote fade out, that this thing was far from perfect.
PG-7 Max is cornered. And probably the only time in the script that’s he’s vulnerable. That line was his desperate plea to have Rico keep the kid out of it.
PG-9 Like I said, the schilling murder was a misstep. Should have made him a co- conspirator with Rico. Therefore justifying Max’s revenge on him. And that would have made every guard in sing sing corrupt in some way. We’ll except for Saunders.
Pg 25 - "The kid" is referring to Kenny. Since Ray and Kenny were sitting in the truck while Junior and Max were in the trailer in the back.
The plan was rushed. It came to fruition in a few days. I originally had a blood spot on the back handle of the door that was noticed from one of the checkpoint guards. Which gave them a reason to open up the trailer. Otherwise they should have just drove right off. Either way I needed a reason for the chase to begin.
Pg 27- Junior was originally not suppose to die. I was going to have him separate from Max after the crash. Then later on in the story Max would meet up with him. Instead I chose to go with the shock value. Killing off characters in the first act of the script.
Pg 34- You raise a valid point about why didn’t the crooked detective just wait for him at his home. But the way I constructed those scenes, you don’t know if he was a cop or not. At least not yet. Nor do you know what happened to Susan. I was revealing his character through the events that followed. And I just figured that the detective questioned Susan, and she was the one that told him where he might find Sam. (riding his bike in the neighborhood)
Pg 38 - I noticed some parts felt ONT , even to me. But I was kinda going for that over the top cliché type of story. I knew what I was doing, while I was doing it. But I’m sure I could have cut down on a lot of the machismo that I through in there.
Pg 43 - This was a way of adding some comedic tone, that I tried to lightly sprinkle throughout. That particular scene wasn't suppose to be intense. It had a different vibe from the rest.
Pg 40 - Sam is weary of the strange man “asking” him to step into his car. Even if he managed to get his badge out to show Sam before he bolted. Sam probably wouldn't have went with him. Since he technically didn't have to.
Pg 45 - Maybe “trembles” wasn't the right word. Even though the old man was brave enough to confront Max. He still was an old man who couldn't hide the fact that he was afraid. I feel like you can be brave and scared at the same time.
Pg 50 - The motel scene with Max and Sam was one of the few times in the story that the two had a chance to stop and actually talk to each other. I felt the story needed a scene like this, and probably a few more of them.
Pg 54 - Rico wasn’t there to kill max. If he was, Max would have been dead. The reason he showed up with his hired Mercs, was to help Max escape from the chase. Now using the rocket launcher to take out the chopper, eliminated any further pursuit by air, from either the news or police choppers. As well as keeping the cops at a safe distance.
Pg 58 - Ok, Max does of course know where the stones are. The problem he has is that the stones are with his wife. Now if he simply tells Rico where the stones are located. Rico WOULD have killed his wife as well as Max and Sam.
Pg 76 - I actually had a side plot with Agent Miles in an early draft. Where his grand daughter was killed by Rico, years ago. And in that scene I had Agent miles staring into an old picture of his granddaughter. But since I felt that would be a bit of a stretch in story, I chose to chuck it. Plus it seemed that every time we see Agent Miles he was in one form or another engaged into this case. This was the one scene that he wasn’t. And the one moment he has time off work. BOOM…He’s brought right back into it.
Pg 72 - I didn’t like this scene. It was reworked only days before the deadline. I felt like it was rushed and not fully fleshed out. It was my second or third cop out scene to move the story along. These things happen when your under the gun in a six week challenge.
Pg 85 - Yeah, I forgot to add a small bit scene when he jumps back into the car.
Pg 86 - I was trying to be funny.
OK… I probably didn't explain it well in the script. Since there wasn't a scene showing the actual heist from years ago. I can see how the motives of some of the characters could have been miscued.
First off… Max never cheated Rico out of the stones. Not really. Rico was the one who tried to double cross Max and then kill him after the heist. Somehow Max managed to hide the stones from Rico, before getting busted. Max’s plan was to hide his wife and fake her death, since his wife was wanted in connection with max. They both chose to give the son over to the grand mother. Who they thought Sam would have been safe with until Max was released and the family could reunite again. The problem was the grand mother died. And since the mother was legally dead. Sam was moved into foster homes.
Showing that Rico was as ruthless as he could be in that chainsaw scene, I was trying to show the reader that … yeah this guy is somebody who “does” like to kill people. And Max was someone he always wanted to kill. But the stones was his only leverage. The only reason he hadn't killed him. And Max knew that. It’s not that Max was eggin' him on…Like…“Yeah, you go ahead and try and kill my son.“ It was the fact that he knew he would kill his son and his wife. And then him. Who better to know Rico, then Max? All of Max’s decisions and actions are predicated on his beliefs and what he knows.
In the end, and in retrospect I should have had Max either die…Or go to Jail. I know that. That would have at least took off the stink of that happy ending. Which didn't seem to fit, giving what happened throughout the story.
You definitely helped illustrate the problems I knew existed in the script, but because of time and just not having an outside perspective, I just couldn’t see. I should have inserted everything I didn’t add into the script…The Heist…Schillings involvement with Rico…Possibly not killing Junior….Some side plot with Agent Miles…Max’s motives…Max not living at the end…There’s a quite a few things I should have added in, that I think would have helped the story fully materialize.
Looking back, this was a tremendous learning experience for me. Shorts are one thing. But a feature is where it’s at. It’s what we choose to shoot for. Hopefully I can learn from this, and my next feature would reap the benefits of such detailed reviews.
Sam fights a fake detective. In those scenes I see a certain problem which many scripts have: The whole neighborhood felt empty. There's nobody as if it's prepared for a shooting. Nobody reacts to the shots. Many scripts lead to a shooting in the victim's "lonely" neighborhood, but here- it shouldn't have been that low budget production decision set since that whole Sing Sing angle. In order to that you could draw out more interesting, maybe even extraordinary place.
INT: 133 WEST 36 STREET/BASEMENT LEVEL – DAY
The dialogue reads overwritten. That leads to a point where I can't imagine their voices, I mean their emphasis in case of their voice level, volume, variant pronunciations, hectic, INTENSITY. It's too much chat. Better a shorter dialogues with some descriptions or emphasis.
Chainsaw- like with Schilling - that's a bloodbath. I'm sure you can write some heavy visuals. Manny must have had a shower of blood there. I have to balance some story elements myself, than just seeing focused things which make a complete picture.
OK. So whatever those Beaten Guys know doesn't belong to the storyline I guess? So, it's about Rico's and Manny's characterization, right? Then you don't have to do this old generic "Say what you know-thing". There are better opportunities.
"....Congratulations asshole, you just became public enemy number one."
The whole agent's dialogue works a lot better than the scenes I mentioned above. It helps the plot, reads fresh and modern.
"A loud BANG is heard from the trunk."
Good. Forgot about him.
Further on: Max takes a sleep, but then, you cut to a point he already has shot someone- I think the concept of this shot is very interesting. You go in late here and then there's immediately more tension.
I'll read straight through from here, because I thing to get the potential and where the problems sit by now for a potentially rewrite: Max - we're at fifty and I don't know what "exactly" brought him to Sing Sing and how he was able to keep away the prey from Rico. Now he killed another cop and sure I have recognized it's a father son thing. Focus on your emotional main plot. Sam has a gun with 13, but you could dramatize this kid more. Show him doing more wrongs in the beginning. Maybe make him a bigger asshole, and then, show he got a good side too which makes me to root for him. Conflict. Imagine your trailer. An almost criminal son is hunted together with his potential criminal dad. They figure out their relationship and their possible future. That happens during an "insane" situation almost impossible to survive. For all that: Max has to be not guilty, and we should know or believe this from the start to root for him. All of the drama aspects, their conflicts with each other, have to be highly compressed and intense. We're at 50 and Sam didn't honestly ask ones
why somebody wanted to capture him. For a 13 year old he's also not very frightened of all that violence.
I also don't know where Max WANTS to go now and what he thinks IS NEEDED to safe his son.
The ending couldn't turn it around for me.
There were some nice visual actions like shooting the Journalists chopper or the fall from the bridge. But that's the extra and not the heart of it. The heart should be characters.
The first act was interesting. I hoped for Max been innocent and that you clear this up as soon as possible. It isn't the case. Sam wasn't deeply shocked his foster mother's been killed which doesn't make him simpatico. So, a story which I would have liked could be about a brutal manhunt with Max trying to convince he wasn't guilty of doing something WHILE Sam was already on the right track to become a criminal within his father's footsteps.
The way it is here it's about an antihero and guys I can't get a connection to. It's not my taste. You then have to give me something at the level of Blow or Scarface or De Niro stuff. Why Max makes a robbery with this psycho at first?
I hope this helps anyway and you get that I had some positive notes about the inventive nature of act 1 and how I see the potential, which I think is there.
Still you brought up a story from A to Z. It's perhaps just not my taste of story here...