Author: Tamas Harangi
Writer’s Potential: 8
Logline:A Serbian gangster in Los Angeles falls in love with the prostitute he’s been hired to kill.
Synopsis:ZORAN PETROVICH, late 20s, works as a mob enforcer with KOLYA for a Russian man named MAKAROV. They’re sent to Las Vegas to find a man because he’s taken somethimg from Makarov. They find his house, but it’s deserted. They stumble across a hooker, MOLLY, who leads them to their man — COLLINS. After some beating and torture, Collins gives up a motel name and room number. They throw him in the trunk for good measure. They reach the hotel and find a girl — AMBER, another prostitute — under protection of U.S. marshals. They kill the marshals and take her. She was under protection because she intended to testify about Makarov’s role in human trafficking. They drive out to the desert, yank Collins out of the trunk, kill him, and return to the car — Amber’s gone, hiding in the desert. They soon find her. Kolya wants to rape her, but Zoran won’t let him. He decides they need to steal another car because somebody may have seen them killing Collins and nabbing Amber. Zoran steals a Mustang. They’re told to meet up with BODNAR, a mercenary, at a rest stop. When they do, Kolya goes out to use the bathroom. Zoran, perhaps to make up for his role in Kosovo ethnic cleansing (periodically illustrated in flashbacks throughout), takes off with Amber in the Mustang. Bodnar’s van is incapable of chasing, so he and Kolya are left behind.
Makarov calls Zoran, makes some veiled threats, kills a 17-year-old girl over the phone, and tells Zoran to have some fun but bring Amber back. Once Amber realizes Zoran really wants to help her, she doesn’t run away. Makarov calls back a little later and tells Zoran — now in a motel with Amber — to turn on the news. He does, and sees a story about murder U.S. marshals with Amber’s picture plastered all over it. Zoran decides they need to get the hell out of there. A little later, he calls Makarov with a deal — $100,000, his green card and passport, and he will keep her from testifying. Makarov agrees. At a gas station, they’re spotted by two CHPs, but they don’t recognize Amber — they’re just interested in the flashy car. While driving a little later, Amber says she’s never driven an American car. Zoran lets her, and she tears up the road. They talk about making a list of things to do in America before they’re dead. Amber says she’d like to swim in the Pacific Ocean. Zoran reluctantly says that may never happen, but he stops at a waterfall and natural lake in a rock formation, the next best thing. Amber swims. They make love, then both fall asleep. The next morning, Zoran agrees to meet Sacha in Barstow, CA. They meet at a diner. Zoran plants Amber at a phone booth to make sure Sacha doesn’t double-cross them. Of course, he does — Bodnar and Kolya are prowling around in the van, and they grab Amber. After a stalemate, Zoran leaves with his envelope. Zoran busts into the van, but Kolya’s gone and has stolen back the Mustang. He follows the van out to the desert, wondering where they’re going. Zoran wrestles a gun away from Sacha, busts out of the van, using Sacha as a human shield. Kolya tries to stop him, Amber slips out of the van and back into the Mustang. Soon Zoran’s outnumbered, but Amber whirls away in the car. She gets Zoran, and they speed into a ghost town. The others follow. They have an almost Wild West gunfight in a tourist-trap ghost town. Sacha points out that the envelope was a ruse — inside are shredded, useless immigration papers. Zoran and Amber manage to kill everybody, but Sacha fires twice into Zoran before he’s taken down by Amber. Amber wants to get him to a hospital, but Zoran demands that he let her die. Reluctantly, she does.
Comments:This is an interesting script that deals with a lot of timely problems — mostly, human trafficking and sex slavery happening in the U.S. The core of this script is a blossoming, and ultimately tragic, romance between Zoran and Amber. More time and emphasis out to be placed on this. Just take the time to develop these characters, let them get to know each other — hopes and dreams, struggles and trauma. There’s some of that, but there’s also a lot of plot that gets in the way of this development. Their relationship is really interesting, though, and it’s the core of the story, so it deserves that extra time to develop. Increasing the emphasis on the relationship will also heighten the impact of Zoran first driving off with her, and then dying for her. The secondary characters could also use some work; Kolya’s love of raping is pretty much all the definition he needs, but it would be nice to see some traits of Sacha, Bodnar, and Makarov. They don’t need huge amounts of development because, ultimately, the story is about Zoran and Amber, but a few unique traits can go a long way to making these supporting characters more interesting.
The plot, aside from needing more development on the romance, works well as-is. The action that bookends the quiet moments between Zoran and Amber is suspenseful and well-written. This is a strong effort, and with a little more work it could be great.