Friday, March 27, 2009

Gideon's Law

Genre: Police Drama/Thriller
Synopsis: (from the trades) When a disgraced young cop is assigned a routine civilian ride along, he quickly learns that his passenger is not what he seems and that he has just entered into a brutal battle with a killer who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
About: This script is developing a lot of heat and is out to buyers. David Greathouse Productions (David Greathouse & Geoff Alexander) attached to produce.
Writer: Chris Billet

Training Day was one of those movies that just came out of nowhere and knocked you in the face. Right from the get-go it established a tone and an atmosphere that was unlike any cop movie I had ever seen. I think what resonated with me the most was Denzel's character. He reminded me of one of those guys we all cross paths with at some point in our lives. The ones that'll smile at you one second and punch you in the face the next. That's what makes the character so terrifying. Is you don't know when they're going to stop laughing and start punching.

So Gideon's Law had a tall order. Cause any time you base your movie around two people in a cop car, I'm going to compare you to Training Day. That said, Gideon's Law is structurally quite different from that film. Where as that movie didn't reveal its cards until late in the second act, Gideon lets you know 30 minutes in who your bad guy is.

The script is about a young cop named Shane Gideon who's forced to do a "ride-along" with a local author, RICHARD, who's doing research for his next book. But when Richard deftly saves Gideon's life, we begin to suspect there's something more going on with him. As it turns out, there is. Richard is actually holding Gideon's girlfriend hostage at another location. He doesn't get her back until he's helped him retrieve a piece of evidence that could possibly incriminate him. What follows for the next 90 minutes is the ride-along from hell.

The script is frantic and a bit out of control at times, but fun. Unfortunately it violates a key Scriptshadow Law that I've pointed out before. If the point of your movie is to have your main character try and rescue someone, make sure we the audience know and love the person they're trying to rescue. Cause if we don't know or care about that person, then we have no interest in the outcome of the story. But Gideon's Law is no Rockaway. Billet is a good writer and at least makes the choice for a reason. Instead of introducing us to Gideon's wife in the beginning, he uses her identity as a twist later on when we realize that a random female character who was kidnapped was actually Gideon's wife. I understand that choice but would have rather known her better.

My other problem with the script is that it needed more twists in Richard's storyline. This script was prime real estate for twist fever yet Richard's whole story and motivation were pretty straight forward. In future drafts, I would like to see that change.

I think Gideon's Law is a concept with a lot of potential and if it addresses these issues it could be great. It's not quite ready for primetime though. But you know who is ready for primetime? Our first ever Guest mini-reviewer! Biohazard's taken a bite out of Gideon and he's here to spit it out...

I enjoyed it. It's not a perfect script by any means, but it's quick, reads well, and most importantly, has a pretty good hook. It's Collateral, but with a police ride-along instead of a taxi. Yeah, it has its faults. Some minor (I wanted to get to know the girl a bit so I'd have a reason to fear for her safety), others major (the third act is a mess). The important thing to realize is that all these problems can be fixed since there is a good concept at it's core that bears the possibility of a strong, cinematic story. It'll take some rewriting, but I can see this flawed script becoming a good film.

So Bio and I agree I think. With a little more creativity behind Richard's storyline, the messy third act can be solved. I wish these guys the best. They have a great concept here.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Really simple. Don't forget to add enough twists to your story. But not only that. Make sure they're original. If they feel like something you've seen in other movies before, think deeper.