Some of you have asked for opportunities for a shot at a free membership, and we’ve listened.
For the rest of this month, and sometime mid-December, we’ll be hosting a contest for members and subscribers alike, to submit guest reviews on the scripts we’ve taken a look at.
What can you review?
This can be submitted via the forums or in blog comments, with the one rule being it MUST be a PRO script previously reviewed on our site.
Other than that, it can be something we reviewed last week, or a year ago.
The choice is yours.
How should you review?
I have my format, but do you need to adhere to that? Certainly not.
My reviews tend to go on for longer than they should, so feel free to “get in and get out” when writing up your critique.
What we will be looking for is a concise breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses, along with insightful points that will help aspiring screenwriters, including yours truly.
Can I keep it short, like a paragraph?
Realistically? No, unless it was the most insightful paragraph you’ve ever written.
More than likely it should be around 400+ words, but again, we’ll be judging quality, not quantity.
Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have in the comments below.
Thanks and good luck!
*Winner gets a free 6 month membership, and may be asked to submit up to two guest reviews during that time period.
How can I review scripts if I need a subscription to enter a contest to get a free 6 month subscription?
I can’t review scripts if I don’t have a subscription, right?
The site was free for TWO YEARS.
In that time you didn’t download a single script that was reviewed?
If you’re new to the site, my apologies, but if it’s something you’re interested in, there are NUMEROUS sites/forums/etc. on the web that offer scripts to download.
Somehow I think your comment is just a reason to troll, rather than put in a little effort and join the actual discussion.
The Equalizer – Script Analysis
Standard Coverage Rating Scale from:
Excellent | Good | Fair | Poor
Story Line: Good
Overall: Excellent | Recommended
I want to discuss THE EQUALIZER script because it is not an original story and it’s chock full of seemingly stock characters and situational tropes. And yet it’s one of my favorite scripts. The only scripts I’ve returned to as much are written by Tony Gilroy.
(Speaking of Gilroy, I think the Gilroy brothers’ Bourne scripts set a new standard for the super-agent story and have elevated the Bond films and influenced new franchises like Taken, Salt and now The Equalizer.)
Based on a successful but forgettable ’80s tv show, the idea of an ex-CIA operative meting out justice isn’t particularly fresh. Throw in a prostitute with a heart of gold, Russian mobsters, rogue CIA agents and this story is steeped in clichés. So why does it work? Why did Denzel Washington love it?
Well, it’s always about execution, especially when you’re dealing with a well-trodden genre. The descriptions are spare but evocative, the characters compelling, the dialogue efficient. They coalesce into a familiar yet entertaining story.
It’s the writing that stands out. I’m going to go as far as to say that the script is better than the movie.
It’s been said that screenwriting is in some ways more akin to poetry than fiction. One of the intangibles of scriptwriting is tone. The beauty and concision of Wenk’s writing makes the script a seamless, effortless read.
Attempts at spare descriptions often lead to bland writing. I would not recommend leaving out pronouns and verbs, but Wenk shows how it’s done. He paints pictures with a few brush strokes.
Look at how quickly he gets us into the script on the first page – no FADE IN, no INT. or EXT., rather an image of an object.
Page 1 ****
AN ALARM CLOCK
Hits 5:30 AM and goes off.
Grey morning light. Alarm still BUZZING because the room’s
Bed already made. Tight enough to flip a quarter. Room
Spartan and immaculate.
Inside the BATHROOM…
A HAND WIPES STEAM OFF A FOGGED BATHROOM MIRROR
Just enough to see the straight razor gliding across the
final patch of lather…
Visually the first two pages look like a series of haikus. As a reader, I know I’m in the hands of a master and the script, despite whatever flaws may occur, will probably be a quick and painless read.
Want efficient, evocative exposition?
Page 9 ****
McCall stands in line with OTHER WORKERS.
FACES in line not much different from his. Men not where
they expected to be at this stage in life.
Beautiful and kind of heartbreaking. You can’t teach this kind of writing, but we can learn the importance of tone.
How about the first major action set piece?
Page 24 ****
Turns. Half-lidded. Dull. Like an alligator. WE PUSH INTO
THE PUPIL AS IT DILATES. In it WE SEE…
As McCall sees it. With the detachment of a predatory
A series of frozen pictures flashing through McCall’s head –
mind calculating and evaluating a thousand details in a
PARTS OF THE ROOM FADE AWAY. THE UNIMPORTANT PARTS TO
MCCALL. Walls, doors, furniture, faces…
Leaving only what’s necessary to him: The glass edge of a
shelf. The DRAGON TATTOO covering the CAROTID on the man’s
neck, the handle of a KNIFE in the man’s waistband… the
throbbing heartbeat in the center of the second MAN’S
CHEST… The SHOT GLASS on the edge of a table… The
third man’s eye and the outline of a gun under his coat…
And the fork.
Weapons and targets disconnected from any sense of humanity.
The eye measuring the distance between the objects and the
time it will take him to kill everyone in the room.
This has all happened…
IN THE BLINK OF…
Holy crap. And this before anything has happened! This is the unspoken equivalent of ‘shit’s about to get real.’
How about a heartbreaking, character bonding moment?
Page 34 ****
McCall reaches out and the two shake. Only Teri doesn’t let
go. Childlike eyes watering a bit.
And there’s a moment where we understand – she knows. Not
because of any proof or certainty. She just knows… Raises
onto her toes, gives McCall a peck on the cheek.
Then she’s off.
Motionless. Watching her cross the street bright as a comet.
Whole life ahead of her.
When she disappears only then does McCall move.
Face reflecting a strange sense of peace. Eyes understanding
one less person in the world is hurting.
THAT HE DID THAT.
Picks up his bags and heads into his building. Finally
getting it. Finally understanding who he is…
The movie could actually end here as a pretty satisfying short! Something to think about when concluding ACT ONE in a feature.
There are so many gorgeously written scenes throughout the script and I think that is why I wasn’t super bothered by:
–the rape scene (actually this bothered me – it’s standard fare in the revenge genre – and wish Wenk had come up with another scenario worthy of McCall’s wrath)
–the Ralphie subplot didn’t resonate
–and therefore, neither did the corrupt police detectives
–Russian mobsters, a head villain named Vladimir Pushkin – it would skirt cartoonishness if it were less well written (the last good movie w/ Russian baddies was “Eastern Promises”)
–McCall miraculously escaping harm during the diner demolition. (This was fixed in the movie)
Like most movies in the genre, the 3rd act becomes a little tedious, but the ingenious ways to kill people in Home Depot made for entertaining reading.
I would’ve ended the script on page 104:
Walks off the stage and into the arms of a NICE LOOKING GUY.
The look on his face tells us everything we need to know
about her life now.
Eyes bright with pride. Drops a twenty on the table and
heads for the exit…
Can I just have my subscription restored for free? I had been an avid member of the community and tried to contribute when I could. I think only new users should have to pay. By making it paid and kicking everyone out, didn’t you essentially kill the community that you had built over the years?
You should let the people that were already there stay there for free. Now when people join, they’re likely to walk into a half-empty room. Thanks.
Not sure I’d classify 7 posts, most of which are requests for scripts, as “contributing to the community.”