Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fiasco Heights

Genre: Thriller/Film Noir
Premise: A gunman returns to the crime-ridden city of Fiasco Heights and teams with a degenerate gambler/private eye on the run from a syndicate to look for a beautiful femme fatale.
About: Kyle Ward, all of 27 years old, sold Fiasco Heights to Universal back in 2007. He was an assistant at Dreamworks at the time. The script made the 2008 Black List, landed him at CAA, and got Ward all sorts of high-profile jobs like "Kane and Lynch" and "Hitman 2". If it does get made, Michael Bay is producing.
Writer: Kyle Ward

What do you get when you mix Sin City, Dick Tracy, and Grand Theft Auto? Fiasco Heights. When Guy Ritchie, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriquez dream of the perfect script, what do they dream of? Fiasco Heights. If you spend the majority of your time debating what your next tattoo will be, dripping sweat from your nearly naked body at the local rave, or dropping acid, what should your next screenplay read be? Fiasco Heights. I never get jealous of other writers, no matter how great they are. I am very jealous of Kyle Ward though. He's clearly insane, yet possesses the innate ability to capture that insanity and transfer it down onto paper. There is not a single thing about Fiasco Heights that I should like. My 300 and Sin City experiences were the equivalent of being thrown into a dryer for six hours without fabric softener. The only reason I even gave this script a chance was because I had rented Grand Theft Auto a week earlier and had played it so much I'd started confusing the real world with the Grand Theft Auto world. My brain felt like spaghetti and pepto bismol as I stumbled around my neighborhood wondering if I should carjack the Accura or the Audi. Ward's modern film-noir seemed like a natural extension of this mindset so I gave the Xbox a much-needed rest and dialed up Acrobat. I'm not sure I'd ever go back and relive that week, but Fiasco Heights stands as the defacto bookend to the closest I've ever come to committing a felony.

For those of you wondering, Fiasco Heights is a city. Sticking with film-noir tradition, it's seedy, dirty, rainy, and unpleasant. Atlantic City meets Gotham. Here we join Nick The Saint, a professional killer who hasn't been to this shithole in years. In fact, everybody thought Nicky was dead. A ghost. But he so wasn't dead. Now he's back to find a girl named Hope who's gotten herself into a bad situation. Across town we meet Lucky - no relation - a former P.I. with a serious gambling addiction. The local bookie (his priest) lets him ride his debt on that evening's fight and suffice it to say, Lucky's account gets K.O.'d. Lucky splits and the priest sends out his own personal hitman brigade to take him down. Lucky's no Carl Lewis so they catch him pretty easily and take him to their own version of confession: If he doesn't come up with the money, he's dead.

Lucky for Lucky he spots some men manhandling Hope, the girl Nick's looking for, and as a result becomes Nick's only link to finding her. The sleazy Lucky (I don't know why, but I picture the guy as the real-life equivalent of Leisure Suit Larry) parlays this information into securing the world's best bodyguard. He'll help Nick find Hope if Nick helps protect him from the priest. Nick's not taking to this low-life but it's not like he's got a lot of options. Hence, a pairing is born. The thing that Lucky doesn't realize, is that just about everyone in this town wants Nick dead. Which means this coupling's annihilation has become the number one priority for every dirty rotten crook in town. Needless to say, trouble ensues.

From then on, every minute of Fiasco Heights is filled with somebody dying, somebody killing, or a bunch of people dying and killing during an incredibly elaborate car chase. In fact, the central chase scene is one of my favorite moments in the script. Here's the end of it, just to give you a taste of how insane Ward is...


A vertical garage door lifts, revealing a PINK CADILLAC parked inside (the kind your mom drives after selling Mary Kay for ten years). Lucky wires the engine and REVERSES THE CADILLAC OUT OF THE TIPPING HOME BACK ONTO THE FREEWAY.

The house topples to the asphalt, and rolls in direct path of the SEWAGE TANKER. Tanker collides and sputters into a 90 degree skid. As it cuts perpendicular to the other lanes, THE
CONSTRUCTION CARRIER has no choice but to carom into the tanker at full speed...


WATCH OUT! THE CONSTRUCTION CARRIER hydroplanes across the piss slicked asphalt -and- slams into the median, sending all 6 concrete cylinders toppling onto the highway.

Ah hell!

Lucky weaves as the cylinders roll across the lanes. He’s dodging perfectly, until of course the final cylinder rolls directly in front of us!




Nick signs the cross. Lucky tries too, but fucks the rotation.

And the Cadillac speeds into the clear....
If I need something described from this point on, I'm going to Ward to describe it. I could picture every bullet flying, every body crashing, every color glowing. So much so that I see no point in making the movie. Just read the script a second time. It'll probably be a more enjoyable experience. If they were going to make this movie though, they should split it up into four pieces and give it to four different directors. Tarantino, Spike Jonez, Tarsem, and Guy Ritchie. Don't let any of them know what the others are doing. It would be genius! If you're going to take a shot at this weird creature, why not go all the way?

Is it all buttercups and belgium waffles? No. Buried inside this circus is a pretty ordinary plot. I guess it has to be that way to keep this story from floating off into the stratosphere. But I'm very much a "story" guy and not having something to sink my teeth into kept me from enjoying this as much as I'd hoped. Watching Ward weave words together is fun. And I was never quite sure what was coming around the corner. But I wanted a little more meat on this bone and not even the most lavish description of a bullet entering a man's body can make up for that. For that reason, Fiasco just misses an impressive. It does, however, get my new favorite rating: the double-star "worth the read". :)

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest

[xx] worth the read

[ ] impressive

[ ] genius

What I learned: I think this script is a good reminder to really evaluate your action description. Make it fun and entertaining to read. A lot of writers are content with just getting it down. Tell us what's happening in an interesting way. Readers get bored with mundane description.