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Kane and Lynch

Author: Kyle Ward
Genre: Action
Storyline: 4
Dialogue: 1
Characterization: 3
Writer’s Potential: 2

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Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

An ex-CIA operative and a schizophrenic scientist are forced to work together to unravel the plans of corrupt government officials.

Synopsis:

A grainy, security camera video shows ELIZA, 16, being forced by kidnappers to record a message for her father. She rambles about hating her father, and the video feed goes dead. KANE sits on a prison transport bus on its way to San Quentin. He holds an old, faded picture of Eliza. In flashback, we see how he got here: a man named COSGROVE convinces Kane to help kidnap Russian arms dealer VALENTIN, who recently made a deal with the CIA (who arrested him) — asylum in exchange for an encrypted chip called The Skeleton Key. They hook up with a group of Cosgrove’s mercenaries, but before they have a chance to do anything, all hell breaks loose — a van explodes, and they’re greeted with a hail of gunfire. In the midst of all this, a mercenary from the attacking (Russian) side grabs Valentin’s briefcase with the chip. More explosions, followed by police sirens, lead Kane to hop onto a double-decker tour bus. The driver helps remove all the tourists from the top level, then starts driving. AGENT CARMIKAEL, riding in a police car, follows the bus, then climbs on the back and up to the top, where he confronts Kane. They both shoot at each other. Carmikael gets hit in the kneecap while Kane’s cheek is grazed. Kane leaps off the bus, only to be cornered by more CIA agents. He gives himself up and is found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

Back in the transport bus, LESTER LYNCH sits across from Kane, tapping rhythmically. Now it’s his turn for a flashback: he worked as a janitor at a technology company. He hears strange voices that he can’t control. His obnoxious boss harangues him, so Lynch beats the hell out of him with a mop handle, then slams his face into a Xerox machine multiple times. Lynch goes to a shrink and demands a stronger prescription. He goes home and tells his wife he quit his job. They have sex, and the next morning, he wakes up to find her dead and mutilated. A judge finds him guilty of murder and sentences him to death.

In the present, Lynch starts to shake. An annoyed GUARD gives Lynch his medication — two pills. Lynch lets one of them roll across to Kane, then mutters something about “The Seven” coming to get them, suggests Kane take the pill. Kane’s dubious, but he takes the pill — and a black armored truck slams through the prison bus, killing have the people on it and tearing the bus apart, spilling all the bodies on the freeway. Soldiers try to grab Kane and Lynch, but Lynch tries to fight back but is injected with a tranquilizer. In a mysterious interrogation room, Cosgrove apologizes to Kane about Venezuela, but he’s sending Kane on a new mission because he still needs the microchip. Kane doesn’t want to cooperate, so Cosgrove shows him a video feed of Kane’s wife, gagged and bound. Her cell has only 96 hours’ worth of oxygen. Cosgrove tells Kane he’s part of a group called “The Seven,” then brings in Lynch, who will work as his partner. Kane has the spy skills; Lynch has the chip knowledge. Lynch had been hired for a government-funded experiment called “Black Charon,” which used mentally unstabled people to act as human cryptograms. Only Lynch can decipher the Skeleton Key. Cosgrove shows Kane his target, RETOMOTO, who is now in possession of the chip. Kane says he’ll do it if Cosgrove releases his wife, so Cosgrove shows the video of Eliza that opened the script. Kane’s enraged, but he complies. Kane tries to escape, dragging Lynch with him. Cosgrove sends men after him, but Kane beats or kills all of them. Kane calls Cosgrove with a cell phone and says Lynch has now become his hostage, and if he does anything to Kane’s family, Lynch dies.

At CIA headquarters, CARMIKAEL limps to a younger agent, JEFFRIES, who says Kane disappeared in the prison bus accident. Enraged, Carmikael tells him to put together a task force. They’re going to San Francisco to investigate the crash themselves. Kane steals Lynch’s pill bottle and asks him about The Skeleton Key. Lynch says it’s familiar, but he can’t remember much about his past. All he knows is that the chip is loaded with launch codes for ex-Soviet nukes and that he believes the men who experimented on him actually caused his mental illness — and killed his wife. Kane and Lynch get fake IDs from a contact Kane has upstate, then the board a plane for Tokyo, which is where Retomoto was last seen. A stewardess treats Lynch well, but he has a psychotic episode and ends up choking her and shoving a hot towel down her throat. Kane leaps in to apologize and blame the psychiatric board.

Carmikael and Jeffries show up on the scene of the crash and are berated by FBI Special Agent BRISTO for investigating a crime outside his jurisdiction. While Bristo rambles at him, Carmikael uses his finely honed hearing to both tune Carmikael out and listen to background chatter. He catches the name Lynch and, satisfied, leaves, telling Jeffries to dig up intel on Lynch. In Tokyo, Kane and Lynch set up in a cheap motel; Kane explains they’re in the center of a yakuza hot spot, which will lead them to Retomoto. He explains his past with Retomoto — in South Korea, Retomoto seized a nuclear warhead and the CIA was brought in to retrieve it and kill Retomoto. At the last minute, they were told to stand down, bur Kane infiltrated anyway, getting nearly everyone on both sides killed, and Retomoto still got away. Watching the outside with binoculars, Kane spots a tubby American, HILDEBRANDT. They follow him to a bar. Lynch waits at the bar while Kane goes in back to get information about Retomoto out of Hildebrandt. He knows where Retomoto operates — Shibuya Tower — but doesn’t know any of the details. He tells Kane to find Higgins in the red light district. Meanwhile, Lynch is approached by a prostitute who questions his sexuality when he turns her down, so Lynch kills everyone in the bar.

Kane and Lynch get out before the cops show up, and Lynch confesses to Kane that he’s only sticking with him because he needs Kane’s help finding the people who killed his wife. Agents find a lead for Carmikael: an angry stewardess filed a complaint with the psychiatric board after being attacked on a plane to Tokyo. At a noodle house, deep-cover nerd HIGGINS is met by Kane and Lynch. Higgins knows the details of how to get into Shibuya and reluctantly agrees to help. For collateral, they kidnap Retomoto’s daughter and cut off her finger. Some high-wire acrobatics get them to the secure tower where Retomoto is. Kane kills Retomoto, they grab the chip, then after gunfights and a series of explosions, Kane and Lynch leap off the tower into a chopper flown by Higgins. Carmikael and Jeffries arrive at the airport just in time to see the Kane/Lynch exploits on the news. Higgins gains access to the chip, cracks its security. It starts streaming audio, which turns Lynch into a hypnotic decoder. Kane and Higgins realize that it’s not the chip — Lynch is The Skeleton Key. The chip just helps him unscramble what’s in his head.

Cosgrove taunts Eliza, who’s feisty. Kane calls and tells him he has what Cosgrove wants, so let his wife and daughter go and he’ll return Lynch. Cosgrove says he needs Lynch first, but Kane tries to push him. Cosgrove kills Kane’s wife. Cosgrove gives Kane instructions to meet at the docks in Seattle. In Seattle, Kane and Lynch wait. Cosgrove presents Eliza, still bound and gagged. Cosgrove presses a gun to her temple. Lynch is puzzled to learn he’s part of the exchange. Reluctantly, Kane hands over Lynch. Kane realizes Cosgrove is working for Valentin, realizes he’s the one who sold Kane out in Caracas. Cosgrove fires two in Kane’s chest, goes to shoot Eliza, but his gun is out of bullets. Cosgrove leaves Eliza with another man, BRECK, as he drags Lynch to a chopper.

Kane wills himself to regain consciousness, beats down Breck and gets Eliza back. Eliza yells at him, and Kane gives her a heartfelt apology for being a bad dad. Then, Breck regains consciousness and goes after Kane. They fight. Eventually, Kane kills Breck — and immediately they’re swarmed by FBI agents. They arrest Kane, and as they drive along a bridge, the CIA sets up a fake construction operation and grabs Kane. Kane apologizes for shooting Carmikael when Cosgrove turned out to be the bad guy. Kane knows Cosgrove is headed to Alaska, so they get into a chopper. They land on an abandoned shipping port at the edge of the Arctic Circle. Almost single-handedly, Kane takes out the security and leaves a trail of bodies all the way to Valentine and Cosgrove. As Kane handles Valentine (Cosgrove runs), he instructs Lynch to destroy the chip. Lynch does as a vat of oil is poured into the ocean and ignited. Kane and Lynch run.

They tear through more of Cosgrove’s men to get to the man himself. Cosgrove puts a gun to the back of Kane’s head, then Lynch puts a gun to the back of Cosgrove’s. Cosgrove warns Lynch that if he shoots, he’ll never find out what happened to his wife. Lynch shoots. The FBI raids the area. Lynch disappears, but Kane stays and takes his medicine.

Six months later. Kane’s at Leavenworth. He receives a letter from Eliza and a postcard from Venice. Kane looks at the postcard and finds it’s from Lynch, who describes his love of the city. A guard tells Kane he has a visitor. It’s Carmikael, saying they need a favor.

Comments:

This is a mediocre action script with some decent set-pieces and a ridiculous, overly convoluted plot that still manages to lack any surprises. Entirely pilfered from better movies, the plot has a cobbled-together feel that makes the narrative flow as schizophrenic as Lynch is supposed to be. By far the weakest aspect is the Eliza pseudo-subplot; her video opens the script, creating the illusion that she will be important at some point in the script. She’s not; Kane never mentions her — positively or negatively — except when Cosgrove is directly using her as a threat. We get no real sense that Kane cares about her, except in the general sense that a father would care about his daughter. She drifts out of the story for about 60 pages, comes back for another 10, then disappears again. She exists simply because the writer noticed every other action movie has some kind of domestic stakes, but Kane cares about as much for his daughter and wife (who’s seemingly even less important to him) as he would for a stranger being held hostage.

Worse than that, why make the plot so complicated when, at the end of the day, this is a script about people beating the shit out of each other and/or shooting each other? The goofy microchip story has no emotional impact, barely makes sense, and doesn’t really matter. If the writer streamlined everything, this would be much more satisfying.

At the risk of sounding overly harsh, the dialogue is atrocious. Every character — which ranges from a 16-year-old girl to middle-aged Japanese men — sounds like a sex-obsessed 13-year-old. The only exception is Lynch, who sounds like a 13-year-old who uses big words whose definitions he doesn’t fully understand to make himself sound smarter; this would be a funny characteristic if it were the writer’s intention, but Lynch is supposed to be some sort of insane genius, so it’s just terrible dialogue.

The characters have a tiny bit of meat to them, but not much. Part of their problem is the bad dialogue, but most of it is that their personalities seem completely tied to the plot. They don’t appear to have lives beyond what’s happening in the story — even the hints of backstory they give tie directly to the current story. The writer flashes back to what leads these characters to prison, but I would have liked to see more of them just acting like people — hobbies, interests, something to make them a little more than bland action-movie clichés. We never get anything like that, which is a major disappointment.

I have to admit, despite the severity of the script’s problems, it delivers on mindless action. Action fans might be disappointed with the incoherent resolution, but they will certainly enjoy the explosions, gunfights, and hand-to-hand combat. With big stars in the leads, it’s sure to draw an audience.

Posted by D. B. Bates on October 23, 2008 9:13 AM  |   | Print-Friendly  | Professional Script Coverage

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