An excerpt from my script review for Death Wish which will be available 03/05/18:
3.) Quality of Characters
Converting your hero into an antihero.
We’re presented with Paul Kersey as a giver of life right from the get go.
He literally massages a heart back from flat lining!
To further set him up, for a later and greater fall, he’s a fantastic dad and husband who shies away from violence.
This is good because the better he is starting off, the further we have to go with him as a writer, and that makes for good conflict.
It won’t be a minor change, and it isn’t.
Once his family dies and the house burns down, Paul wakes up in the hospital, and finds the nightmarish face he’s seen before, only in his nightmares.
He claims it’s his “true self” later to Frank, and even though I don’t agree 100% with that assessment, the old Paul is definitely gone.
Janine even comments at one point, Paul is a physician, a preserver of life, asking where it will end…but to Paul it has ended, with the death of his wife and daughter.
(Audrey and Amanda for those keeping score. Quick note here, since I couldn’t remember their names in the plot section, you may want to better differentiate names in your own scripts. Oh, and no need to constantly use a character’s last name in each entry, unless there are multiple Frank’s or Paul’s, but there really shouldn’t be.)
On the topic of how drastic or permanent the transformation was, this line seemed to sum it up, from page 66:
I tune out their sympathies while absently allowing for them.
He’s hugging his old coworkers, not because he wants to, but because they’ll expect it. He doesn’t want to raise any alarm to what his true agenda is.
That shit’s dark and calculated.
We may not agree with his methods, but as an audience we’re going to appreciate the results.
Hero to antihero, just make sure there’s a clear definition of the two, both at the start and the end.
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