Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exit Zero

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Premise: A young computer genius discovers a series of computers cooperating with each other. He suspects foul play.
About: Exit Zero is on a few of those "Best Unproduced Scripts in Hollywood" lists. Wimmer has a couple of scripts in my Top 25, including Law-Abiding Citizen (which I seem to be the only fan of) and Salt. Exit Zero was purchased for 1.5 million dollars back in 1996.
Writer: Kurt Wimmer

Exit Zero is about a young computer genius, Max, who begins to suspect that a series of supercomputers are communicating with each other. He mentions it to some coworkers and his superior and their responses are predictable: "So the fuck what?" Just when Max thinks he's overreacting - BAM - he's hit with a mass murder charge. ??? What??? The FBI shows up within minutes to arrest him but our young spry Max slips away.

Soonafter, he runs into Sandy, an icy bitch who has some sort of advanced cognitive ability that allows her to see holograms inside newspapers and magazines that very well may be holding subliminal messages meant for the human race. The messages say, "They stopped using subliminal messages in movies back in 1996" as well as something about "Prepare for Exit Zero."

The CIA joins in on the chase, forcing Max and Sandy to find out what's going on before they're caught (and maybe even killed!). They hop from city to city, picking up clues along the way, and learning that dozens of supercomputers are communicating with each other without any human interaction! Packages are being sent from all over the world to a central location. The question is: What's in the packages?

Well if I told you , I'd be giving away the big secret right?!


Okay fine I'll tell you. (***spoilers***) The packages are robot parts, being manufactured during downtime at the factories when workers aren't around. So then who's ordering the factories to make and ship these parts? Are you ready for this?? Well, finally the internet has found some sort of central conscious after being fed gazillions of bytes of information for so long. But since it can only do so much as an invisible entity, it's using computers from all over the world, mainly in car and machine factories, to create a physical embodiment - read "robot" - which it can then transfer itself into.

I'll be honest, I was kind of into this. But that's because I'm into anything techno-thriller-like. If it wasn't so dripping with 90s ideas, I'd like it more. The whole "being able to erase your identity and charge you with any crime at any moment" thing? Sandra Bullock in the "The Net" anyone?? Even 15 years later though, this is still a hell of a lot more creative than that piece of crap, Eagle Eye.

A couple of other problems I had were that the girl was completely worthless. There was nothing likable or intersting about her at all - unless you count her nonsese ability to see secret codes embedded in magazines that no one else in the world could. They don't exploit any sort of relationship between her and Max- and I'm not saying you have to do that in every movie. But if she's just there to run around and be annoying, why even include her?

And the ending of this thing. Oh my God. All I can tell you is there's a space shuttle involved. Why they're all of sudden in a space shuttle? How they got on the shuttle?? I could probably read this thing 50 more times and I still wouldn't be able to answer those questions. I just know that Kurt Wimmer was putting a damn space shuttle in that third act through hell or high water. He clearly had no concerns whatsoever about if it had anything to do with the story or not.

And yet still, through all of this, I really dug Exit Zero because the mystery portion of the script was fun. I have a feeling some of you will vehemently disagree, but if you're like me and "CNET's" one of your main bookmarks, there's a chance you'll enjoy Exit Zero.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Get into your story FAST. One thing I constantly see in beginner scripts is writers who take their time getting into the story. Four, five, six scenes go by before we even get a whiff of what the story is about. I'm not saying this can't be done. But whenever you see it in a film, I can almost guarantee you it wasn't a spec script. It's a writer-director or an independent script with a director attached. In spec scripts you have to start the story quickly and never stop moving. In the very first scene of Exit Zero, Max encounters a problem (with the computers). And so right away, the story has begun. Save the ponderous stuff for your first directing gig where you don't have to win over a reader. In the spec world, it's all about getting to the story NOW.