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The Job

Author: Brad Mirman
Genre: Thriller
Storyline: 5
Dialogue: 6
Characterization: 5
Writer’s Potential: 5

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]

Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

When a group of professional thieves are double-crossed during a Budapest casino heist, they must race to get out of the city alive.

Synopsis:

A group of thieves gather at a Budapest cemetery to mourn Jozsef, a fallen partner. There’s FRANK (60s, stoic, the group’s leader), DOYLE (30s, confident and charming), WES (30s, tough), MATT (30s, Scottish), VINCENT (40s, French, nerdy), and GRAHAM (40s, English, emotional). Each of them drops an object with either monetary or sentimental value into the grave. Then, they go to a café to get drunk and tell old stories about Jozsef. They all find it ironic that Jozsef, one of the best thieves who ever lived, was killed in a mugging. Graham takes Frank to his apartment in suburban Budapest. His wife, RACHEL, is surprised and disappointed to see Frank. ANNA (6), their daughter, is excited to see both Graham and Frank. Anna introduces Frank to her teddy bear. After an awkward dinner, Frank and Graham drive to an abandoned warehouse, where they meet the other thieves, plus CARL (30s, neurotic) and NICO (40s, Italian, suave). The old crew has a hard time trusting these new guys, despite the fact that Jozsef hand-picked them. Just as a fistfight is about to break out, MADELEINE (late 30s, attractive, wealthy) arrives. She’s the “bank,” and she spent the past year planning a heist with Jozsef. Their target is the Vidago Casino, whose vault is contained in a natural cave under a river. In a week, they’ll be hosting the world’s largest baccarat tournament, meaning their vault will be stocked with 50-60 million euros. They discuss plans on how to drill into the vault and get the money out. Frank tells them they have to drill in and have the money out in six minutes. Nobody’s sure it can be done.

Privately, Frank tells Madeleine he wants an assurance that Jozsef’s family will get his cut. She says once she takes her percentage, the money is Frank’s to divide as he sees fit. Frank asks Madeleine how she knew Jozsef, fishing because he knows nothing about her. Eventually, Madeleine confesses that she picked the target because known mobster Nicolai Sidorov killed her father, and she wants revenge. When Frank reminds her that the money is insured, so he went technically lose anything, Madeleine tells him that to someone like Sidorov, pride is more valuable than money. Frank returns to his hotel, where Wes and Doyle confess their concerns about the scope of this job. They’ve never pulled off a heist of this magnitude and aren’t sure they can do it. Frank doesn’t try to convince them they’ll succeed, which they admire enough to stick with him. The next day, Matt and Vincent dive into the river and go to work on the rocky riverbed. Frank meets with OLIVIER, a Frenchman who agrees to launder their money for 12% of the take.

Doyle goes to a welding supply store to buy an arc torch. SYLVIE (30s, French), a customer at the shop, feels an instant connection with him. Doyle tells her he’s a deep-sea salvager, and Sylvie takes him back to her apartment, where he discovers she’s a metal scupltor. To Sylvie’s surprise, Doyle is very familiar with other such sculptors. While working to place some large air tanks onto the boat, their support rig snaps, pinning Matt underwater, where he drowns. The next morning, Madeleine asks for details and whether or not they properly placed the air tanks. Madeleine reluctantly allows them to take some brief time off to attend a funeral for Matt. Graham goes to a prison and offers MIKHAIL money for a mysterious task. Meanwhile, Rachel seeks out Frank at a café. She tells him that Graham won’t listen to her, so she’s asking Frank to kick him off the job. Frank refuses. At Matt’s funeral, everyone throws a valuable object into the grave except Carl, who thinks it’s a stupid custom. The argument gets so heated that Frank threatens to kill Carl. Taking him seriously, Carl tosses 50 euros into the grave. Doyle meets Sylvie at a bar. When she’s threatened by ANDOR, Doyle beats him up. Sylvie storms out, angry at what she assumes was Doyle’s attempt to impress her. She softens when Doyle explains that she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.

Frank goes to the Vidago and quietly studies SIDOROV (50s, sinister) and his main goon, ZITO (30s, tough). That night, the crew pulls the job, carving a hole into the riverbed that leads into the cave vault. They swim into the vault, admire the massive fortune, and then simply leave. The next morning, Madeleine congratulates them on a job well done. Frank is unimpressed — until they actually get the money, he won’t celebrate. Meanwhile, Sidorov discusses what happened with Zito, police, his casino manager, and an insurance investigator, BARNA. Barna explains that, as long as there’s a gaping hole in the cave, they are in violation of their policy. They have no choice but to put all their money into the hands of police until they can repair the vault. Frank and Doyle watch, pleased with this turn of events. He gathers the group at the warehouse and tells them everything’s gone according to plan so far. There’s just one more step, and they’re done. They go through the plan: at the central police station, Graham and Wes will take over the “security room,” while Frank, Carl, and Doyle go to the evidence room to retrieve the money from the police safe. Meanwhile, Vincent will lay traps along their route. Nico will drive a diversion vehicle to lead the police after him while the others make their escape, which he will then blow up to cover his tracks. If police follow the others, Vincent will lead them to the traps.

Rachel drops by Frank’s hotel room to announce that, if Frank doesn’t pull Graham off the job, she’s leaving him. Frank tries to talk her out of it, but when Rachel gets feisty, Frank gets violent. After making love, Sylvie apologizes to Doyle for getting so upset. Doyle apologizes for overreacting, then tells her about his own father, who spent years beating his mother until Doyle stabbed him. After two years in juvenile hall, he was released to find his father had left his mother, and his mother resented and hated Doyle for ruining her life. Then he announces he won’t be able to call her for a few days, because of work. Sylvie pouts, but Doyle tells her he would not have opened up if he didn’t feel something for her. Graham brings Frank to his apartment to yell at him for putting hands on his wife. Graham gets a phone call that forces him to leave. He makes Frank babysit Anna. Frank’s uncomfortable with the little girl, who wants him to read her a bedtime story. He won’t do it, so she asks him to stay with her until she falls asleep. Later, Graham returns to find them both asleep.

Early the next morning, the crew prepares for the police station heist. Meanwhile, Mikhail initiates a massive, violent prison riot. This draws the attention of all the police in the city, leaving a skeleton crew at the central station. The crew moves into the station lot in a police van. According to plan, they flash fake IDs and keep their heads down to avoid being seen by any police or security cameras. In the security room, an officer monitors a bank of monitors showing activity in the station. Graham knocks him out, then returns to the lobby and knocks out the desk officer, taking over for him. Frank, Doyle, and Carl threaten the evidence control officer until he opens the cage. They knock him out, then blow the safe. Cops enter the station with a prisoner. They don’t recognize Graham, who makes up excuses as to why he’s there. Wes goes to a second-floor office, screwing a canvas slide to the wall outside the window and unrolling it so it creates a path to the van, where Nico waits. The cops get suspicious when Graham doesn’t know standard booking protocol. Carl and Wes slide attaché cases filled with cash down to the van, which Nico loads. Just as the cops are about to cuff Graham, the rest of the crew enters the lobby and all hell breaks loose. A shootout ensues, resulting in the deaths of the cops. Carl is shot. Everyone gets in the van, which makes its getaway. Carl tells Frank to give his share to his sister in Chicago. He dies.

The police chase the crew, who lead them through Vincent’s traps. A helicopter has the van in its sights as it drives into an abandoned building — a staging area, where the crew rapidly switches things up. Nico gets into an identical police van, while Wes and Graham load Carl’s body into it. Nico drives out, creating the impression that the same van simply tried to lose the police. The remaining crew works on their police van, revealing that they put an elaborate façade over the body to make it look like a police van, when in reality it’s just an ordinary van. There’s a second van identical to this one. Wes leaves in a small compact car. Graham takes one of the vans, while Frank and Doyle take the other. Meanwhile, the police are on Nico’s tail. He drives into a busy square loaded with tour buses. Making sure the van keeps its distance from the people, Nico hops out of the van and blends in with the crowd. Waiting for the cops to approach the stopped van, Nico hits a remote detonator, blowing up the van and killing the police.

Frank and Doyle are stopped by a delivery truck broken down in the middle of the road. Both are suspicious, and with good reason — a group of men in a Mercedes open fire. Frank recognizes one of them as a Sidorov goon. Taking cover, Frank and Doyle sneak over to the Mercedes as the goons attempt to retrieve the money to the van. Just as they realize the van is completely empty, Frank hits a detonator. The van explodes, killing them all. Frank and Doyle take the Mercedes and drive back to the abandoned warehouse, where the remaining crew waits. Frank tells them they’ve been double-crossed, and the natural assumption is that Madeleine, who hasn’t shown up to the warehouse, is responsible. They also leap to the natural conclusion that Madeleine had Jozsef killed, possibly because he found out her plans. Frank urges everyone to lay low until tomorrow, when he’ll meet with Olivier. Then they can flee to London.

Graham insists that Frank stay with him at his safe house, to help him protect his family. Frank assumes Rachel won’t be happy with that arrangement, but Graham says they don’t have a choice. Meanwhile, Sidorov quivers with rage when he finds out the plan was changed up and they don’t have the money. He tells Zito to send people to find the money, because if police find it before they do, the insurance won’t pay off, and Sidorov is looking to double his money, not break even. Zito sends men all over the city with photos of Frank and his crew. Nobody recognizes anything. Rachel sees a newspaper about the robbery, describing all the grisly details. She demands to know if Graham killed any of these people. Grahm denies it. Doyle visits Sylvie, who gives him a key to her apartment. Doyle asks her to move to London with him. She’s uncertain.

The next morning, Frank meets Olivier. They swap the money for diamonds, and Olivier encourages Frank and his crew to disappear forever. Meanwhile, Wes must retrieve his passport from his hotel, which he assumes is being watched by Sidorov’s men. Gun drawn, Wes enters his room and finds it empty. He goes to his suitcase to get the passport as two men exit the bathroom and knock him out. Later, he’s cuffed to a chair and beaten badly. Zito threatens and tortures him, but Wes refuses to cooperate. Zito kills him with a blowtorch. Frank, Doyle, and Graham bury the suitcase full of diamonds under a compost pile in a shed at the safe house. Graham goes back home while Frank and Doyle go to meet the others. They find Vincent and Nico but no Wes. Nico knows about Wes’s passport, so they go to the hotel and find Wes’s body. Vincent tells them Sidorov has photos and is searching the city for anyone with a connection to them. Doyle suddenly runs out to pursue Sylvie. Meanwhile, Zito shows a photo of Doyle to Andor, who leads Zito right to Sylvie. Doyle barely manages to get to her first. They both escape to Graham’s safe house.

At Graham’s house, Madeleine calls Frank, then turns the phone over to Sidorov, who offers them a percentage to return the money quickly. Frank’s disgusted with the offer and says he’s walking away, with the money. When Sidorov threatens him, Frank threatens back — and Sidorov is a little uneasy. Doyle introduces Sylvie to Rachel and Anna. Once Sylvie understands the full scope of what’s going on, she’s touched that Doyle risked his life for her. Anna tries to cheer up Frank, but it doesn’t work. That night, while everyone’s asleep, Frank cuts opens Anna’s teddy bear, pulls out some stuffing, digs up the diamonds, and places them inside the bear, which he then sews back up. Zito reports news of his failure to Sidorov. Madeleine helpfully suggests going to a café Graham owns and interrogating employees. The employee there knows where the safe house is.

Feeling the extra weight in the teddy bear, Anna believes it’s pregnant and will have a baby. The others ignore her. While Anna goes out in the yard to play, Zito and his men kidnap her. Unsure of what to do, the crew simply waits for Sidorov to call. Graham is willing to do anything to get her back, but Frank tries to talk some sense into him. He knows Sidorov won’t let any of them — including Anna — live, even if they give all the money back. On the other hand, Frank has a plan to get her back. Well armed, the crew goes to the closed-down casino and bust their way in. Frank asks one of the goons where Anna is. When he denies knowledge, Frank shoots him. Another goon immediately provides Frank with the address of the house where Sidorov and Zito are keeping her. A shootout follows as the crew storms the house. Doyle encounters Zito, who shoots him in the shoulder. Frank approaches from behind and shoots Zito in the head. Frank sees Anna’s teddy bear lying in the hall. He grabs it, then heads for the door. He has a momentary change of heart, then searches the house until he finds Sidorov and Madeleine, holding Anna. Frank bursts into the room. Sidorov shoots Frank in the gut, but Frank manages to kill Sidorov. When Madeleine pleads for her life, saying she stopped Sidorov from killing Anna, Frank tells her it doesn’t make up for betraying them. He kills her, then collapses. He tries to tell Anna about the diamonds, but she doesn’t understand.

At Frank’s funeral, everyone tosses a valuable object into the grave. Anna tosses in her teddy bear.

Comments:

The Job is an old-fashioned heist thriller, but that’s its biggest problem. It lifts many of its tricks, twists, and surprises from other entries in the genre. It lacks any real ingenuity, which might be okay if the writer populated his heist crew with vivid, engaging characters. Instead, they’re humorless and taciturn, giving the whole script an oddly leaden feel. As written, it merits a pass.

After setting up the characters and the heist scenario in the first act, the writer attempts his first surprise when it’s revealed that the plan was never to steal the money from the underwater vault. This is one of the script’s few moments of genuine cleverness, but it’s handled with such clumsy foreshadowing that it’s annoyingly predictable. The second act concentrates on the police station heist and the Madeleine’s double cross, and this is where it begins wholesale theft of other heist movies: Madeleine’s revenge motive comes straight from Ocean’s Eleven, while her sudden betrayal is lifted from Ronin.

The entire police heist is also cobbled together from other heist movies, yet the plan is startlingly simple. They just walk into the station, blow up the safe, take the money, and drive away. The derivative nature of the plot is underscored by the fact that long scenes explain every single moment of the plan well in advance. Usually, this is done to surprise audiences when the plan starts to go awry, creating suspense as the characters are forced to think on their feet. These characters don’t: their solution is always to open fire.

The third act, which concentrates on the crew’s escape from Budapest, has a similar lack of suspense and ingenuity. Sidorov is out for blood, so the story raises the body count without ever raising the stakes. When people die, the crew are appropriately horrified and disappointed, but it never increases their sense of fear or desire to flee Budapest. They simply wait it out, letting Sidorov come after them like fish in a barrel. The final confrontation at Sidorov’s safe house is still too easy to satisfy audiences. Although Frank dies, it’s more for a cheap, ironic plot twist than any legitimate danger they face from Sidorov.

Without an interesting plot, this script must rely on the strength of its characters. Concentrating on Frank as the main character makes sense, considering he’s the leader of the heist, but he’s singularly uninteresting. His quiet demeanor prevents him from revealing anything about himself. Although some of his actions, such as getting violent with Rachel and going back for Anna instead of leaving with the diamonds, reveal small details about his nature, he lacks a personality. He mostly just broods and plans.

The supporting characters are similarly unengaging. Doyle and Graham come the closest to being interesting, but that’s by virtue of the fact that they’re given romantic subplots. Although the characters range in age and nationality, nobody — including Doyle or Graham — stands out as having any individuality. They don’t even appear to have individual skills to make them assets to the plan.

It’s entirely possible that a capable ensemble will breathe life into these characters, which might make the derivative plot a little easier to digest. However, without that, the script is just mediocre.

Posted by D. B. Bates on May 7, 2009 12:03 PM  |   | Print-Friendly  | Professional Script Coverage

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