Thursday, March 26, 2009

Salt ("Edwin A. Salt")

Genre: Spy Thriller
Synopsis: A CIA agent discovers there's a Russian spy deep inside the organization.
About: This is that infamous project that Tom Cruise was attached to but then got booted off of. Since it's disaster central for any profile-dropping A-Lister to get booted off a project, Tom's robots did spin control and all of a sudden Tom hadn't been let go from the project, he had dropped out of the project. To make matters even more bizarre, he was replaced by Angelina Jolie. Yes, cause that makes sense. There's an old screenplay adage that goes: If you're all out of ideas, change the gender of your protagonist. A new world of possibilities will open up. Let's see what opens up when Angelina Jolie becomes Edwin A Salt.
Writer: Kurt Wimmer

I'm going to tell you to do something I've never told you to do before on Scriptshadow. Don't read this review. Instead, scroll to the bottom, download the script, read it, then come back. Because as Randy Jackson would say, this script was off the hook. I don't want the review to spoil anything for you. So go read it, come back, and we'll talk.



Did you read it?

Okay good. We're ready to have a discussion.

Wasn't that awesome??? I love Salt. Before? I was just a bland tasteless meal. Then Salt came along and gave me flavor. Even though I'm not normally into spies and double crossing and undercover agents, I couldn't help but get wrapped up in this badass thriller. I'm an 80s child so the second you start saying things like Cold War and Soviet Union, I'm so right there. Cause I lived it man. I LIVED IT. You think it was easy waking up every day knowing you could get bombed at any second by the Ruskies? Yeah well that was my life.

Salt starts out introducing us to CIA officer Edwin A. Salt and his CIA best friend, Winter. Salt is planning a birthday party for his daughter and he wants it to be the best birthday party ever. Unfortunately, the two have to make a quick detour over to headquarters, and that's when shit starts going bad. Salt's CIA position isn't exactly the top of the food chain. He's been assigned to Russia, and these days the only Cold War going on is in Putin's pants if you know what I'm talking about (no, I don't know either). So normally Salt wouldn't have much to do. However, a strange Russian man approaches the building and insists Salt hear his story. Salt's pissed because he has his daughter's birthday party but work is work and he brings the man in.

The Russian tells him of a secret Russian weapon created back during the Cold War. This weapon was a man - the creme de la creme of soviet espionage. Did you ever see Conan The Barbarian? When Conan has to turn that wheel for like 20 years of his life? Well this guy would've walked right over him and gone for another 20. They made this man the smartest, toughest, deadliest, coolest, most perfect spy in the world. His name was "Chekov", and at age 17, they sent him to the United States to infiltrate the U.S. Government. After 20 years, he has embedded himself so deep inside the CIA, that he has access to every single document in the building. But he's only looking for one. A document called KA-88. KA-88 is a trigger scenario the U.S. developed in anticipation of its enemies that shows the one weakness in our government/economy that would cause our country to crumble within weeks. Doomsday for America. Chekov has finally gotten clearence to obtain that document. Oh, and one more thing, the Russian says. "You are Chekov."

Holy shit! DO I HAVE YOUR FUCKING ATTENTION?? I sure have my own. Winter is shocked. His best friend is now his worst enemy. Or is he? Salt swears he knows nothing about this. Yet Salt is in the CIA - he's one of the best trained liars in the world. So is he lying to cover his lies? Or is he telling the truth? Salt realizes that this case isn't going to trial. It's likely going to be decided right here and now. And in the best case scenario, he's going to be dead. So he flees the building. That, of course, is where the brilliance of the script lies. As Salt goes on the run, we not only don't know if Salt's lying to Winter. We don't know if he's lying to us. Who is Edwin A. Salt?

Every once in awhile a script comes along that reminds you that what you thought was good writing, was actually only mildly acceptable writing. You are immersed in this world from the get-go. You visualize the movie on each page. The only criticisms I have are that they forgo a lot of the mystery in the last 40 pages and go a little heavy on the action. Still, the ending highway plane take-off scene is going to be IN-SAYNE. This script is a badass recipient of Wimmer's awesomeness. Loved it.

I don't know what's happening lately. All these scripts are making my Top 25. Salt slides into lucky number 21!

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

What I learned from Salt: The last two scripts, which both made it into my Top 25, had very similar structures. Both had one scene where you met the characters, then the very next scene the movie goes on a torrid pace and never lets up. There's something to be said for scripts that start up fast and keep you on a quick pace the whole way through. Of course they have to be done well to work, but as a spec, I think they have a better chance of capturing someone's interest than a script that takes its time.