Weapon

Author: A. Thomas
Genre: Action
Storyline: 3
Dialogue: 3
Characterization: 3
Writer’s Potential: 3

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Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

When a ruthless killer is released from prison with a price on his head, rival assassins race to murder him.

Synopsis:

From a sniper perch, JACK CONWAY (35) whistles an operatic tune as he shoots a man walking through a city park. He catches a bus back to his apartment, where he voice-chats through his computer with someone whose avatar is the Tasmanian Devil. Because of some odd DEA investigations in the news, Taz tells Conway that two contracts — Contoursi and Delgado — require top specialists. He asks Conway to do it. Conway agrees. From the roof of a bank, Conway shoots at JOEY CONTOURSI. He misses. Contoursi jumps into his car while his bodyguards rush into the bank. Conway shoots out the car’s front tire, causing it to crash into a building. Conway pretends to be wheelchair-bound, which allows him to escape from the bank. He shoots the lock on Contoursi’s car door, pulls it open, and empties the clip on Contoursi. Conway returns to his apartment to report the good news to Taz. When he asks about Delgado, Conway is surprised to hear that someone else plans to fulfill the contract. Conway asks who. DEREK CHASE drives a beat-up Caddy into a rough neighborhood. He surveils REUBAN DELGADO as he and his bodyguards enter a club. Pretending to be a waiter, Chase gets close to Delgado and slits his throat. Chase flees to a sleazy pawn shop. In the back room, he meets with HODGIE and NALBANDIAN. Nalbadian offers Chase more jobs, but they aren’t as high-profile or lucrative as Chase is used to. Chase turns him down.

In a court, a team of prosecutors, led by JIM DWIGHT, question Mexican drug runner RICARDO ESPINOZA about the drug trade, in which corrupt DEA officials have tight control over trafficking — not to prevent it from happening, but to make money from it. Ricardo explains that if cartels chose not to comply with the DEA, they’d lock people out of the market and possibly send a “beetle,” which he describes as a government-sanctioned assassin. DEA defense lawyer MILT JACOBSON tries to insinuate Ricardo is lying in return for a reduced sentence. Later, Jacobson questions deputy administrator JAMES HERROD about a supposed “secret DEA drug syndicate.” Herrod explains that it’s logistically impossible, since they have 9000 men to police an industry of 10 million people. In the office that night, agents GODFREE and SCHELL join Herrod and Jacobson in discussing the events in court. Turns out, they’re all complicit in this syndicate and want to keep it a secret. Godfree explains that they’ve taken care of all their beetles but one, a man who has gone deep underground. He’s dangerous because he knows everything, and Godfree fears the prosecution know who he is and will use him to destroy the syndicate. Godfree and Herrod see no alternative but to “release Polo.” Schell asks what this means. They explain that Polo Yakur is one of the most ruthless druglords who ever lived. When Schell asks why they’re releasing him, Herrod explains that they have no choice. They have a week to find their witness.

Herrod brings in sexy FELECIA, brooding BLANCHARD, and dorky GAGE to keep track of Polo. He announces they’ll put a large enough bounty on his head to get the attention of worldwide assassins. Nalbandian calls Chase, offering a $10 million bounty. Taz offers Conway the same deal. Both Chase and Conway take the offer. The first thing POLO asks upon release is where his brother is. Felecia says he was arrested last week, because a man named QUINCY testified against him. Polo leads them to Quincy’s home, where he kills the man in front of his girlfriend. Conway asks Taz where Polo was last seen. Taz explains Polo has headed west to pinch his brother, who’s on trial in Seattle. Chase drives into Seattle, where he’s set up in a dingy apartment run by attractive OCTOBER. She tries to talk to him, but Chase ignores her. Polo and the group of agents plot the escape of Polo’s brother. They plan to stop to refuel in a dingy, largely abandoned town. The group sets up at the courthouse, waiting for the bus to leave.

Conway stops by the home of CHARLENE BRIDGES. Pretending to be an electrician, he offers her an estimate on repairs. It’s actually a note asking her to meet at a restaurant. They have an awkward conversation indicating a difficult marriage, and also that she may have once been an assassin herself. Conway tells her Polo is in Seattle. Charlene is taken aback, but she tries to talk Conway out of doing anything. Charlene tells him to let go. Conway leaves. At the gas station, Conway and Chase set up sniper perches. They realize Polo plans to come up from the sewer, underneath the bus, to get his brother. Both Conway and Chase shoot at who they think is Polo, but it’s actually the brother, DANZO. Conway and Chase both realize the other is there. So do guards and DEA agents, who open fire. In the pandemonium, both assassins escape. Godfree is angry that things are going so poorly, but Herrod convinces him that as long as Polo is alive and free, Conway will come after him. He’s the beetle they’re after.

Danzo is not fatally injured, but he can’t be transported. Polo refuses to leave town without him. Polo also assumes they were set up, and he wants to know who is behind that. Chase rescues October from her abusive boyfriend, not so much out of kindness as the fact that the noise is annoying him. Chase gets a call, which means he has to leave. October asks if she can stay the night. Conway has a nightmare about his daughter, JASMINE, dying in his arms. He wakes up, depressed. Conway goes down to the bar to get a drink. He steps out into the dark alley behind his hotel, where Chase is waiting. They fight and threaten each other, then go back in the bar and share a drink. Chase knows Conway’s history — he worked for the DEA for 10 years, until Polo had his daughter killed. Conway says they have a price on Danzo, too, so he offers to split the money with Chase to team up. Chase is reluctant, until Conway brings up Nalbandian. Polo announces that he’s working with a mole. He suspects Gage, who was released from prison one week before Polo. Gage confesses the DEA forced him, then put a price on Polo’s head. Polo kills him, then wonder who’s trying to cash in on this price. He goes to Nalbandian’s pawn shop and demands to know the identities of everyone involved. Godfree and other DEA agents are all there. Godfree explains about Conway, but Polo wants to know about the other man — the one who actually injured Danzo. Back at his apartment, October tells Chase she knows he’s an assassin. She tries to convince him that what he’s doing is wrong, but Chase has justified it. Nalbandian calls, urgently. Chase meets him, and Nalbandian describes the drug Polo had injected into Jasmine. He says that it was not actually Polo who killed her, as the scene flashes back to Conway pulling out his gun and shooting her to stop the pain. Nalbandian says the DEA actually wants Conway, and they’ll offer $20 million as a down payment for his death.

Charlene comes to visit Conway. Having done a lot of thinking about what he did, she decides to forgive him. Charlene has brought Dwight, who offers Conway the opportunity to be a witness against the DEA. Conway shows them he has a bomb strapped to his persona nd will detonate it if they don’t leave him alone. Dwight doesn’t think he’ll do it, but Charlene does. Conway meets privately with Chase, griping that he doesn’t have a clue where polo is. Chase says he can help. Later, Conway and Chase meet in the alley beside the train station. Gun-toting Conway decides to use the upper level to shoot at them, while Chase prefers the up-close contact of knifeplay. Conway is arrested, while Chase disappears. Nalbandian pays Chase his money. Polo calls Chase. He’s kidnapped October and will kill her if Chase doesn’t come to Polo and replace her. Chase tells him no, so Polo kills October. Chase returns to the pawn shop, where he threatens Nalbandian until he gets the locations of Polo and Conway. Nalbandian doesn’t want to help until Chase offers some of his $20 million to him. He sends to a DEA surveillance post, where Schell is interrogating Conway. Conway realizes Schell is Taz. While the agents are distracted with Chase, Schell shoots the guards and frees Conway. Conway shoots Schell, saying they’ll never believe him if Schell is uninjured. Separately, Conway and Chase go to the warehouse where Polo was holing up. It’s empty. They nearly kill each other sneaking through the warehouse. Conway and Chase are about to argue with one another about what’s happened when Polo arrives, announcing there’s a bomb in the warehouse.

DEA agents surround the warehouse. Conway realizes Polo plans to lure them inside and kill everyone. They hear shooting as the agents enter. Conway asks Chase to leave Polo for him. Chase says he’ll give Conway 10 minutes. Conway walks into the warehouse and kills every living person in there, DEA agent or Polo thug. He ends by shooting Danzo right in front of Polo, then killing Polo himself. Chase approaches, asking if Conway feels better. Conway isn’t sure. He tells Chase to keep the $20 million. It was never about money for him. Days later, Conway picks up a newspaper and finds Herrod has been forced to step down. He visits Jasmine’s grave, while Chase goes to a cathedral and prays for October.

Comments:

Weapon tries to deliver an epic revenge thriller, but its unfocused narrative and bland characters prevent it from being anything but a generic action flick. As written, it merits a pass.

The first act saunters toward its plot with disjointed scenes showing Conway and Chase at work, then long courtroom scenes, then the DEA’s inexplicable decision to release Polo. The second act starts to clarify things, but the problem is, the first act doesn’t attempt to build any sort of mystery or suspense that pays off with the second act’s revelations. The third act descends into an orgy of violence and limps to the end with a resolution that’s supposed to be thoughtful but is really just uninspired.

Part of the story problems come from the lack of investment in the characters. Although set up to be rivals, Conway and Chase are essentially the same character, so everything they do separately feels redundant. When they finally get together, their relationship has no conflict, even after Chase sets Conway up for the DEA. Conway, at least, is given a little bit of backstory, but it doesn’t enhance is character so much as move the plot forward. It doesn’t help that Polo rarely poses any direct threat. Even in the climactic showdown, Polo stands at a distance and threatens them with a bomb, after which Conway kills him with minimal effort. Half the script is devoted to explaining how vicious and evil Polo is, making this resolution a big disappointment.

Well-constructed action sequences and above-average acting could help Weapon overcome its problems.

Posted by D. B. Bates on May 6, 2009 5:19 PM